Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of the 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
- Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins
Immunotherapy is also known as
- biological therapy
- biological response modifiers (BRMs)
Immunotherapies are used to:
- slow the growth, decrease the spread and lower the risk of recurrence for some cancers
- control symptoms of cancer
- lessen some of the side effects from cancer treatments
Biological therapies work in different ways to kill, control or change the behaviour of cancer cells. These therapies use natural or manufactured substances that mimic or block natural cell responses.
Immunotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Although biological therapies have been used for many years, their use in treating cancer is still relatively new.
Immunotherapy includes a wide variety of treatments that work in different ways. Some seem to work by boosting the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically.