The cells, antibodies and organs of the immune system work to protect and defend the body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. By using the body’s natural defenses, oncologists can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells with few side effects.
How Immunotherapy Works
Immunotherapy works in different ways depending on what type of cancer is present and how an individual’s immune system responds to cancer cells. In lung cancer patients, for example, immunotherapy may be used to enhance the immune system to recognize cancer cells when it otherwise would not.
In other cases, such as breast cancer, certain growth factors may be “overexpressed,” and immunotherapy can work to reverse the progression of these overstimulated cells.
Immunotherapy is designed to boost the immune system, either directly or indirectly, by:
- Making it easier for the immune system to recognize cancer cells, and therefore more susceptible to destruction by the immune system
- Changing the way cancer cells grow so that they act more like healthy cells
- Stemming the flow of blood to a tumor, depriving it of the “fuel” it needs to grow
- Stopping the process that transforms a normal cell into a cancerous cell
- Enhancing the body's ability to repair or replace normal cells damaged or destroyed by other forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Preventing cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body
How Immunotherapy is Administered
Immunotherapy drugs are infused directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous injection. It’s important to note that taking a multifaceted approach to treatment often yields the best results. Immunotherapies are frequently used in conjunction with different types of treatment, such as radiation, chemotherapy or other medications. By using multiple types of treatment, your immune system is better able to combat the growth of cancer cells in your body.
Candidates for Immunotherapy
While immunotherapy works well for some, it may not be suitable—or even necessary—for all cancer patients.
At Inspira, we use immunotherapy to treat cancers including:
- Head and neck cancers
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Bladder/kidney cancer
- Colorectal cancer
The science of immunotherapy continues to grow and evolve, and Inspira is on the front lines of this new wave of cancer care.