Immuno-oncology – an exciting field of medical research that focuses on using the body’s immune system to fight cancer. A number of approaches in immuno-oncology have been used to develop treatments called cancer immunotherapy.
How one type of cancer immunotherapy works
- Cancer immunotherapy makes cancer cells “visible” to the immune system.
- It helps to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
- The immune system starts to recognize—and fight—cancer cells.
In the body, the immune system, including cells known as T cells, identifies and destroys abnormal cells.
The molecules on cancer cells that trigger the immune system to attack are called antigens. Some cancer cells, however, can hide from the immune system because they look a lot like normal cells. Cancer cells may also stop the immune system from working properly.
Immuno-oncology researchers have developed strategies to help make the cancer cells “visible” to the immune system. Cancer immunotherapy can also help to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
Helps the body’s own immune system fight certain kinds of cancers
Boosts the immune response
Helps the immune system recognize cancer cells
In general, all cancer treatments have side effects; in some cases, there is a risk of serious or even fatal side effects. That’s why it is always important to carefully weigh the benefits of any cancer treatment against the possible risks. You should discuss possible side effects with your doctor before starting treatment.
If you’d like to learn more, your doctor is your best resource for information about cancer immunotherapy.