Immunotherapy is a way to treat cancer that involves using the body’s own immune system to fight the disease.
Under normal circumstances, our immune systems naturally help our bodies fight off germs and disease, keeping us healthy. However, cancer cells are often invisible to our immune systems. This means our bodies can’t detect the disease in order to fight it. This is one reason cancer can be difficult to treat.
With advancements in research and technology, more and more therapies are becoming available that allow our immune systems to spot and attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy gives our bodies the needed boost to fight the cancer naturally. How? By finding ways to use natural materials (from our bodies) or materials created in a laboratory to:
- Improve our overall immune system functions
- Give our bodies what it needs to better target specific cancers
- Restore our immune system functions if they are compromised
You may hear immunotherapy referred to as biologic therapy because it focuses on human biology and a body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.
Cancer.net* tells us that immunotherapy may work in the following ways:
- By stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells
- By stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
- By helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells
Types of immunotherapy include:
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Non-specific immunotherapies
- Cancer vaccines
- Oncolytic virus therapy
News related to immunotherapy at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Research related to immunotherapy at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
*Cancer.net is the patient web site from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Read their comprehensive information about immunotherapy.