Here’s How to Treat Patients Undergoing CAR T-Cell Therapy

CAR T-Cell Therapy has exploded onto the cancer treatment scene, & it’s not done yet.  

In fact, we could very well see CAR T used to treat solid tumors, such as breast cancer, in the next few years!  

But most PTs are unfamiliar with how CAR T-Cell Therapy affects our patients.  Right now, this treatment is still somewhat experimental & only specialized institutions are performing this treatment.

However, more patients are undergoing CAR T-Cell Therapy every year.  This means we must be prepared for WHEN (not if) we treat one of these patients.

Dr. Adam Matichak breaks down CAR T-Cell Therapy into easy to understand, easy to implement nuggets in today’s episode.  

If you’re looking for an easy button on CAR T-Cell Therapy, this episode is a must-listen!

CAR T-Cell Therapy is immunotherapy.

CAR T-Cell Therapy is chimeric antigen receptor T-Cell therapy – what a mouthful.  Basically, CAR T-Cell Therapy uses a person’s own T-Cells, adds a surface antigen to them in the lab, & then re-infuses them back into the person.  

In short, genetically modified T-Cells then hunt down cancer cells & scout for lurking cancer cells moving forward.

Pretty cool, right?

CAR T-Cell Therapy is not without side effects.

Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) is the body’s natural inflammatory response, ramped up on Bane’s Venom.  Patients with CRS may experience fevers, hypertension, & hypoxia.

Immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS) is when the modified T-cells cross the blood brain barrier & affect a person’s brain.  These side effects can range from mild confusion all the way through cerebral edema.  

ICANS is the most serious & can even be lethal for some patients.  Adam notes that early identification is critical, & a multi-disciplinary team is massively helpful for identifying these signs & symptoms.


While you may not yet have experience treating a patient during CAR T-Cell Therapy, it’s critical that we are prepared for when we do encounter a patient.  Adam’s interview was massively helpful, almost like an easy button for understanding what is CAR T-Cell Therapy, how it affects our patients, & how we can best work with these incredibly medically dynamic patients.

Listen now!

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

1 thought on “Here’s How to Treat Patients Undergoing CAR T-Cell Therapy”

  1. Hi Elise, I listen (always) from Ireland. I listened to this episode in the gym before work yesterday morning and today a patient came in for a consult in the cancer support centre I work in. She had CAR-T in England and is recovering from ICANS!! In Ireland, we have only just started CAR-T therapy in one hospital so I would not have been up to speed without Adam’s content. Please pass on my thanks.
    I am very interested in reading his case report, how can I access it?
    I really enjoy your podcast. I am currently on the Trinity College Dublin MSc Cancer Survivorship programme and I often find it gives me a fresh perspective.

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