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Immunotherapy For Cancer

Treatment Overview

Immunotherapy helps treat cancer by supporting the body's immune system. It can restore, boost, or redirect the immune system. It may slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, keep cancer from spreading, or help the immune system destroy cancer cells.

Types of immunotherapy

Immunotherapy helps treat cancer by supporting the body's immune system. This type of treatment can restore, boost, or redirect the immune system.

Immunotherapy for cancer includes:

Medicines.

These include cytokines and monoclonal antibodies. Cytokines are proteins made by the immune system to help cells communicate. Monoclonal antibodies find a certain protein on the surface of some cells. They lock onto it (like a key in a lock). This may then trigger the body's immune system to attack and destroy those cells.

Immune cell therapies.

One example is CAR T-cell therapy. A person's T cells are treated in a lab so the T cells are more able to attack cancer cells.

Vaccines.

Treatment vaccines, such as Sipuleucel-T, help the body's immune system find and attack cancer cells.

Questions to ask

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How long has it been used to treat cancer like mine?
  • How will this treatment help me?
  • What happens during the treatment? How long will it take? How often and where do I get it?
  • What are the side effects?

Credits

Current as of: December 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

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