Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s natural immune system in order to manage, prevent and destroy cancer cells. The types of cancer that can be treated with immunotherapy vary, since every cancer type is unique in its own way.
How Does Immunotherapy Work?
Immunotherapy works by stimulating the immune system through the introduction of large amounts of a protein molecule known as cytokine. Cytokines are produced by immune cells. This introduction of cytokines stimulates the immune system to produce more disease-fighting immune cells and accelerates the process for the immune system to identify and target cancer cells.
What Types of Cancer Can Be Treated with Immunotherapy?
Not every cancer patient is eligible for immunotherapy, factors such as genetic makeup of tumor cells, response to previous treatment, and cancer staging are factors in determining whether someone is eligible.
Some of the cancer types that can be treated with immunotherapy include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
What Types of Immunotherapy are Used to Treat Cancer?
The main types of immunotherapy that healthcare providers use to treat cancer are:
- Adoptive cell therapy: this involves removing and modifying a person’s immune cells and then re-introducing them into the body. These modified cells target cancer cells. The types of adoptive cell therapies are CAR T-cell therapy (CAR), natural killer cells (NKs), and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs).
- Cancer vaccines: these stimulate immune response against certain diseases. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can protect against cervical, anal, throat, and penile cancers.
- Immunomodulators: these substances modify the natural biologic response of the body by stimulating the immune system’s ability to find and kill cancer cells. Treatments involve checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, interferon, and interleukins.
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are proteins that are manufactured in labs to attack specific parts of a cancer cell. Monoclonal antibodies can also deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to tumors.
- Oncolytic viruses: Specialists change oncolytic viruses in lab to infect and kill cancer cells.