Immunology Cancer treatment, also called immunotherapy, is a treatment that uses your immune system to fight cancer cells. Your immune system contains antibodies, organs, and immune cells that work together to fight infections and diseases. Different types of cancers treated by immunotherapy include breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer.
How does immunotherapy work
Immune cells produce protein molecules called cytokines that act on other cells. Immunological cancer therapy introduces a large number of cytokines into the body to help in many ways.
One of the ways that immunotherapy works is to educate the immune system to recognize cancer cells and attack them. Another method is to provide the body with ingredients that enhance the immune system's response. It can also strengthen immune cells to help them eliminate cancer.
Types of immunotherapy
Although the main purpose of immunotherapy is to reset your immune system to find and attack cancer cells, different types of immunotherapy work differently, and each therapy has its own benefits and risks. Healthcare providers use the following immunotherapies to treat cancer.
1. Adoptive Cell Therapy-adoptive cell therapy is also called CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptors) T cell therapy, immune cell therapy or adoptive immunotherapy. Your healthcare provider will remove, change and reintroduce your immune cells to find cancer cells and destroy them.
2. Cancer vaccines-Cancer vaccines are sometimes called therapeutic vaccines or immunotherapy vaccines. They can strengthen the immune system of cancer patients. Although cancer vaccines are not preventive vaccines, they stimulate the immune response to ensure that the body is protected from certain diseases. For example, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine is used to prevent infectious diseases that can cause penile, throat, and cervical cancer.
3. Monoclonal antibodies-Monoclonal antibodies are manufactured in the laboratory and then injected into the body to attack specific cancer cells. Some of these laboratory-made proteins help the immune system completely stop the growth of cancer cells by causing cancer cells to self-disperse.
4. Checkpoint inhibitors-These are drugs that help eliminate natural blockages in the body to keep the immune system in check. Cancer cells use these blockades to evade the immune system. However, with the inactivation of immune checkpoint inhibitors, the body reacts strongly to cancer cells
Although immunotherapy is effective for many types of cancer, the success rate of any type of cancer treatment depends on many factors, such as cancer type, location, size, general health, age, and cancer stage. It is important to understand why a healthcare provider might recommend one immunotherapy over another.