How Does Immunotherapy Treat Cancer?

Immunotherapy engages the body’s own potential immune system and mobilizes its elaborate disease-fighting arsenal to kill cancer cells. It has many benefits over previous types of cancer therapies. Cancer cells are skilled at evading the immune system. Immunotherapies are designed to prevail over the cancer cells, even if they are hiding.

The human immune system has specialized disease-fighting cells that travel throughout the body, continually seeking out and destroying foreign pathogens. Cancer cells stealthily elude immune system detection due to their similarities to healthy tissues. Cancer immunotherapies override the deceptive strategies of cancer cells to ensure that a potent, precise, and adaptable immune attack focuses on tumors in any part of the body.

What is Immunotherapy?

All individuals have an immune system which helps protect them from infections and other threats to health. These threats include viruses, parasites, toxins, fungi, allergens, and bacteria.  Typically, the immune system is unable to identify cancer cells as a threat to the body. Cancer arises from cells already existing within the body, whereas the pathogens come from outside the body. 

Since cancer cells are merely mutated versions of healthy cells, the immune system won’t recognize them as threats and fails to launch an immune response against them. Additionally, some cancers can interfere with the ability of the immune system to function correctly. Scientists started to realize the potential of the immune system to fight specific diseases, including some cancers, only recently.

Using the body’s own capabilities to identify and kill cancer cells is the method immunotherapy uses in treating cancerous diseases. Immunotherapy treatments can be used to attack cancer cells directly, It can be used to stimulate the immune system to respond to the disease. Additionally, immunotherapy can prevent cancers from returning after treatment. Immunotherapy can also help to fortify or restore the body’s natural immune function, making it easier for the immune system to destroy cancer cells and prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

Although it’s gained much attention in recent years, use of immunotherapy actually dates back to the 1890s, when bacteria were purposefully injected into a cancerous tumor in an attempt to encourage the immune system to launch an attack against the cancer. However, research into immunotherapy and suitable treatment methods have grown dramatically in the past two decades. 

Which Cancers Can Immunotherapy Treat?

Different types of immunotherapy are currently approved to treat multiple kinds of cancer, including;

  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Melanoma

Immunotherapy is being studied intensely in clinical trials for almost every other type of cancer. Your healthcare provider can review the potential adverse effects of immunotherapy with you. As immunotherapy is relatively new, and research is ongoing, immunotherapy providers are still learning what its effects might be years later. 

Contact an immune care professional in your local area to discuss your personal situation and find out more about how it can help with your disease. You might find that this is the safest and most effective therapy for you, so schedule your consultation today.Indian doctor talking with female patient in doctors office.