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What is Immunotherapy?

What is Immunotherapy?
Highlights

Immunotherapy can cure not only early stages of cancer, but also advances stages, says Dr Nori Dattatreyudu, a renowned oncologist and chief...

Immunotherapy can cure not only early stages of cancer, but also advances stages, says Dr Nori Dattatreyudu, a renowned oncologist and chief scientific advisor of Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research institute.

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses your body's own immune system to help fight cancer. Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways: Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells; and giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins.

Some types of immunotherapy are also sometimes called biologic therapy or biotherapy. In the last few decades immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. Newer types of immune treatments are now being studied, and they’ll impact how we treat cancer in the future.

Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically. Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others.

It’s used by itself for some of these cancers, but for others it seems to work better when used with other types of treatment. Immunotherapy drugs are now used to treat many different types of cancer. The main types of immunotherapy now being used to treat cancer include Monoclonal antibodies: These are man-made versions of immune system proteins.

Antibodies can be very useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell; Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs basically take the ‘brakes’ off the immune system, which helps it recognize and attack cancer cells; Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are substances put into the body to start an immune response against certain diseases.

We usually think of them as being given to healthy people to help prevent infections. But some vaccines can help prevent or treat cancer and other, non-specific immuno-therapies. These treatments boost the immune system in a general way, but this can still help the immune system attack cancer cells. (Courtesy: www.cancer.org)

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