What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, a type of biological therapy—sometimes referred to as immuno-oncology when treating cancers—uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases. A person’s immune system works to help fight diseases and infections, and as part of its normal function, it can detect and destroy abnormal cells, preventing or curbing the growth of many cancers. Though our immune systems work hard to protect our bodies, cancer cells can sometimes avoid destruction by the immune system.
Immunotherapy for cancer is a treatment that works with a person’s immune system to boost or change how it fights against certain diseases, including cancer. Immunotherapy for cancer can:
- Boost or stimulate the natural defenses of a person’s immune system so that it can work smarter to find and destroy cancer cells
- Provide the body with additional immune system components to improve or restore how a person’s immune system functions
Many immunotherapy treatments for preventing, managing or treating different types of cancers can also be used in combination with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or other targeted therapies to improve their effectiveness. Recent years have shown how important immunotherapy can be when treating certain types of cancers, with new treatments being tested and approved and new research being done at a very fast pace.