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Immunotherapy side effects hard to diagnose

Immunotherapy is a developing form of cancer treatment, so its effect on patients can be hit-or-miss. Though its side effects are mild compared to those of chemotherapy, they are hard to diagnose correctly when they arise. Some side effects can be serious, so Iowa residents who have undergone immunotherapy will want to know what they are and how to prevent their misdiagnosis.

Immunotherapy enhances the immune system so that it can fight off cancer cells on its own. Ideally, this prevents healthy cells from being destroyed as happens in chemotherapy. The treatment is frequently used for mesothelioma.

The most common side effects arise because of a negative reaction to the immunotherapy drug. They include fever, aches and pain, dry mouth, loss of appetite and a rash around the site where the drug was injected. Immunotherapy has one serious hazard: It may stimulate the immune system to the point that it kills any cells that are rapidly dividing, even healthy cells. This leads to rashes, poor vision and inflammation of the liver.

The side effects can be treated with immune system suppressants. If the immune system is killing healthy cells, though, this can result in permanent tissue damage. Therefore, patients will want their oncologists to know every symptom, no matter how unimportant, and keep their oncologist in touch with any other specialists that they're seeing.

If patients take all the right steps with their doctors and a misdiagnosis still occurs, they may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. During a case assessment, a malpractice attorney may establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship and show that the doctor neglected the standard of care; this might require outside investigators or a malpractice attorney's in-house team. The attorney may then be able to negotiate for a fair settlement.

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Hixson & Brown, P.C.
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