Car T Cell Therapy

What Is Car T Cell Therapy? 

CAR T cell therapy, also referred to as immune effector cell therapy, is an advanced treatment to fight some cancers. 

How It Works

The immune system is made up of specific cells, including T cells, and organs that protect your body from organisms that cause infection, disease, and abnormal cancer cells. CAR T cell therapy modifies your immune system activity to improve the body’s own ability to fight certain cancers. CAR T cell therapy changes some of your body’s T cells, which are collected from your own blood. In a laboratory, your T cells will be reprogrammed to produce special receptors called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). When these CARs are placed back into your body through an IV, the receptors should help your T cells find and destroy cancer cells.

Throughout this process, careful measures are in place to ensure your safety and maintain high levels of quality.


To start the CAR T cell therapy process, your care team will use an apheresis machine to collect your T cells. This machine removes some of your blood from a needle in one arm, separates out certain needed blood cell components, then returns the blood into your other arm. In some circumstances, you may require the placement of a central line. Your provider will discuss this with you further, if appropriate.


When your CAR T cells are ready and your care team recommends the start of treatment, you will be admitted to the hospital for your infusion. During your stay, which will be about two weeks, you’ll receive three days of chemotherapy. After approximately two days of rest, you will receive your infusion. Your CAR T cells will be infused back into your body in a process like a blood transfusion through an IV.

Your team of doctors and nurses will monitor you closely. You will get medications to help prevent and control side effects. Your response will depend on the cancer type, location, treatment doses and your overall health. With this type of therapy, side effects typically occur two to three days after the infusion. You will need to stay in the hospital for a few days or even several weeks, depending on your clinical situation and whether the risk for severe side effects is diminished.