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Rapid Desensitization for Chemotherapy Allergies

Rapid Desensitization for Chemotherapy Allergies

Chemotherapy in the 21st century is only now beginning to evolve from its early, traumatic treatments. We are still using the potent toxins that kill every dividing cell and make patients physically sick and bereft of the normal protections that help to prevent infections and subsequent malignancies. However, in the past few years, we have seen the emergence of elegant, less traumatic, and more targeted cancer therapies such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. These agents have had a profound effect on extending overall survival while also having fewer adverse treatment effects that have historically been seen with chemotherapy. Allergies May Develop In addition to the terrible burden of cancer, patients can become allergic to their chemotherapy. This happens with some frequency with both older and newer treatments. Older treatments — carboplatin, for example — can cause allergic reactions so often that oncologists will need to perform skin testing routinely to check for the onset of allergies. The newer monoclonal antibodies can also cause serious and life-threatening reactions. These factors can complicate treatment for patients and clinicians alike. For board-certified allergists, much time is spent helping patients tolerate the treatments and therapies that they need but which cause them to have allergic reactions. When managing allergies, the desensitization process involves giving the actual allergen substance. This includes giving antibiotics to desensitize patients who are allergic to antibiotics. In some cases, it may mean giving stinging insect venoms to desensitize patients who are allergic to stings from bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants. In other cases, clinicians may need to administer inhalant allergens (eg, cat, dog, dust mite, and...
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