A Targeted Answer to Cancer
Like many patients and caregivers on a cancer treatment journey, you may be familiar with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Several important features of immunotherapy make for a more specific answer to cancer.
Cancer immunotherapy can work on many different types of cancer.
- Immunotherapy enables the immune system to recognize and target cancer cells, making it a universal answer to cancer.
- The list of cancers that are currently treated using immunotherapy is extensive. See the full list of immunotherapies by cancer type.
- Immunotherapy has been an effective treatment for patients with certain types of cancer that have been resistant to chemotherapy and radiation treatment (e.g., melanoma).
Cancer immunotherapy offers the possibility for long-term cancer remission.
- Immunotherapy can train the immune system to remember cancer cells. This “immunomemory” may result in longer-lasting remissions.
- Clinical studies on long-term overall survival have shown that the beneficial responses to cancer immunotherapy treatment are durable—that is, they may be maintained even after treatment is completed.
Cancer immunotherapy may not cause the same side effects as chemotherapy and radiation.
- Cancer immunotherapy is focused on the immune system and may be more targeted than conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation.
- Side effects vary according to each therapy and how it interacts with the body. Conventional cancer treatments have a direct effect of a chemical or radiological therapy on cancer and healthy tissues, which may result in common side effects such as hair loss and nausea.
- Side effects of cancer immunotherapy may vary depending on which type of immunotherapy is used. Potential side effects relate to an overstimulation or misdirection of the immune system and may range from minor symptoms of inflammation (e.g., fever) to major conditions similar to autoimmune disorders.