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Stay informed about immunotherapy side effects

Residents of Illinois who undergo immunotherapy for cancer, especially mesothelioma, should know about the side effects. Since the goal of immunotherapy is to enhance the immune system so that it can fight off cancer cells on its own, the side effects are not as severe as those of chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells that are also rapidly dividing. Patients generally feel like they are fighting the flu.

The side effects include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and a rash around the site where the immunotherapy drug was injected. However, these are highly unpredictable and, what's worse, often mistaken as symptoms of another condition. Immunotherapy, especially for mesothelioma, is still in the experimental stage, so doctors have little experience responding to its side effects. They may not recognize that a patient has an allergic reaction to the drug.

Immunotherapy has the unintended effect of stimulating the immune system to the point that it attacks healthy cells. Doctors could easily treat this with corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system, but if left untreated, the condition leads to permanent tissue damage and even death. This is why patients should tell their oncologists about every symptom and explain to every other medical specialist they visit that they are also seeing an oncologist. Specialists should always consider drug allergies as being behind the symptoms.

Misdiagnoses and medication errors could in some cases constitute medical malpractice. People whose conditions have worsened as a result might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse might be available to them.

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