What is immunotherapy?
Cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or is not functioning adequately. Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy and biotherapy) uses the body's immune system to fight cancer.
Common types of immunotherapy include:
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are man-made versions of immune system proteins. Antibodies can be very useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.
- Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are substances designed to trigger an immune response in the body against certain diseases.
- Non-specific immunotherapies: These treatments stimulate the immune system in a general way to increase activity against cancer cells. Some examples include man-made versions of cytokines, a chemical in immune cells, such as interleukins and interferons.
Immunotherapy may also be used to reduce the side effects caused by some cancer treatments.