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Can your cancer look worse on a CT scan when it is really getting better from immunotherapy?

ANSWER

Your doctor will order CT scans of your tumor to keep track of it and make sure your treatment is working.

Your cancer might look worse on the first CT scan after your start immunotherapy. But it may really be getting better. Doctors call this “pseudoprogression.“

SOURCES:

LUNGevity: “Immunotherapy.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Combination Immunotherapy Shows New Promise for Lung Cancer.”

GRACE: “5 Key Points on Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Lung Cancer: Game Changer or Just Leveling Up?’

Dana Farber Cancer Institute: “Immunotherapy and Lung Cancer: Exploring the Latest Research.”

National Cancer Institute: “End-of-Life Care for People Who Have Cancer,” “Immunotherapy.”

Jack Jacoub, MD, medical oncologist and director of thoracic oncology, MemorialCare Cancer Institute, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, Fountain Valley, CA.

UpToDate: “Toxicities associated with checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.”

Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “When Progressive Disease Does Not Mean Treatment Failure: Reconsidering the Criteria for Progression.”

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on May 20, 2018

SOURCES:

LUNGevity: “Immunotherapy.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Combination Immunotherapy Shows New Promise for Lung Cancer.”

GRACE: “5 Key Points on Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Lung Cancer: Game Changer or Just Leveling Up?’

Dana Farber Cancer Institute: “Immunotherapy and Lung Cancer: Exploring the Latest Research.”

National Cancer Institute: “End-of-Life Care for People Who Have Cancer,” “Immunotherapy.”

Jack Jacoub, MD, medical oncologist and director of thoracic oncology, MemorialCare Cancer Institute, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, Fountain Valley, CA.

UpToDate: “Toxicities associated with checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.”

Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “When Progressive Disease Does Not Mean Treatment Failure: Reconsidering the Criteria for Progression.”

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on May 20, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

How will your doctor determine if your immunotherapy is working to treat cancer?

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