An innovative cancer-fighting treatment, immunotherapy helps patients fight cancer using a tool already at the patient’s disposal: the body’s own immune system. Though a relatively new advance, immunotherapy is opening the door to potential cures for a variety of cancers. The possibilities with immunotherapy are encouraging and wide-ranging.
Currently, immunotherapy is available to treat a number of cancers, including:
- GI (including colon cancer)
- Lymphoma (Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin)
- Leukemia (acute and chronic)
- Multiple myeloma
As with other cancer treatments, the frequency and duration of immunotherapy differ for each patient. These differences are based on the type and stage of cancer being treated, the specific immunotherapy utilized, and how the patient’s body responds during therapy. The administration of immunotherapy also varies. Immunotherapy may be given intravenously, orally, topically (skin cancer) or via catheter (bladder cancer).
Based on the specific case, available immunotherapies that may be recommended include:
- Cell therapy (CAR-T, engineered T-cells, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes) — T-cells are extracted from the patient’s blood or bone marrow, altered to seek and destroy cancer cells and re-introduced to the patient’s bloodstream via IV.
- Checkpoint inhibitors — With this immunotherapy, the immune system is enabled to recognize cancer cells as threats and attack them.
- Oncolytic viruses — Viruses are modified in the laboratory to attack and destroy cancer cells. They’re then introduced to the patient’s system.
- Vaccines — Immune cells are multiplied and injected into the body to kill off cancer cells.