Cancer Immunotherapy: 10 Things to Know

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Immunotherapy is a promising area of cancer treatment in which substances stimulate the body to fight cancer. It may stop or slow the growth and spread of cancer cells and even destroy them.

Here are 10 things you might not know about cancer and immunology.

1. Cancer immunotherapy was first documented in the 1770s.

2. Immunotherapy is also called biologic therapy.

3. There are four main types of immunotherapy currently being used in cancer treatment: Monoclonal antibodies (manmade versions of immune system proteins), immune checkpoint inhibitors (drugs that help the body recognize and attack cancer cells), cancer vaccines and non-specific immunotherapies (treatments that boost the immune system in general).

4. Researchers say they have seen “extraordinary “results with immunotherapy. In one study, 94 percent of leukemia patients saw symptoms completely disappear after immunotherapy treatment.

5. Immunotherapy isn’t cheap. Treating one patient can cost up to $150,000 a year.

6. The people who are receiving immunotherapy in clinical trials are overwhelmingly white. Researchers are trying to correct this.

7. There are 2,037 cancer immunotherapy products being actively developed now.

8. Immunotherapy was the first treatment shown to extend the lives of advanced melanoma patients.

9. More than a dozen immunotherapy treatments have been approved by the FDA.

10. While the idea of immunotherapy has been around for centuries, it has only gained widespread attention in recent years. It was nominated as the Breakthrough of the Year in 2013.