Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment Immunotherapy Treatment uses a variety of different materials to rally an immune system to kill deadly cancer.


Colitis: A bowel disease that causes swelling in the colon

Melanoma: Most severe and advanced form of skin cancer

Palliative: End of life care based on helping reduce pain, not treating the illness itself.

Predisposition: Suffering from a specific illness, condition, or attitude.

Subsequent: Comes after something in time

Vigilant: Staying alert and aware of danger or difficulties

The ways that Immunotherapy Cancer treatment works

Immunotherapy cancer treatment uses checkpoint drugs and genetically modified immune cells to attack cancer cells. Denise Grady of the New York Times explains, “rather than attacking the cancer directly, as chemo does, immunotherapy tries to rally the patient’s own immune system to fight the disease.” Immunotherapy allows doctors to use their patient's own immune system to fight cancer through checkpoint drugs and genetically changed immune cells. Mary Williams a patient of immunotherapy found that, “the hope of immunotherapy is that when your body has learned to identify your form of cancer, it remains vigilant against it. That’s why some of the currently approved courses of immunotherapy span only a few doses over a relatively short period: The idea is that as soon as the body learns, it remembers.” By improving the immune system doctors hope to not only treat and kill cancer cells but to also keep them away. Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that focuses on being vigilant about rebuilding the immune system through checkpoint inhibitors and genetically modified cells.

The uses of checkpoint inhibitors

Checkpoint inhibitor drugs are placed in the immune system to fight off cancer. Grady pf the New York Times explains that, “The drugs free immune cells to fight cancer by blocking a mechanism — called a checkpoint — that cancer uses to shut down the immune system.” Checkpoint drugs create a barrier between the immune cells and cancer in the body. By doing this the immune system has the ability to work against the cancer. Without these checkpoint drugs the immune system is often taken over by cancer cells. Doctors use different checkpoint drugs based off what cancer they are fighting. According to the Cancer Treatment Center of America, the four common checkpoint inhibitor drugs are Ipilimumab, Pembrolizumab, Nivolumab, Lambrolizumab. The four drugs listed above have been approved by the FDA to treat different types of cancer in patients, including melanoma, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. These checkpoint inhibitor drugs are placed within immune cells to fight cancer successfully.

Treatments that are added on top of Immunotherapy treatment

Cancer treatments paired with immunotherapy include cytometry treatment and chemotherapy. Pete Farley of the University of California states that, “They are using a technology called flow cytometry that will measure the abundance of cells and how immune cells live inside a tumor and how they compare to each other.” Flow cytometry helps doctors determine how the immune cells will react with the cancerous tumor. This helps make immunotherapy more successful in patients because it tells doctors exactly how a specific persons immune cells will adapt and attack the cancer treatment. In addition to flow cytometry, chemotherapy is often used with immunotherapy. According to Science daily, “Immunotherapy combined with chemotherapy destroyed a majority of dormant cancer cells. Chemotherapy alone has known to build up two different types of dormant cancer cells that have become more and more resistant.” Chemotherapy uses chemical substances or drugs to kill cancer and other diseases. Immunotherapy is used subsequent to chemotherapy treatments. Using immunotherapy allows doctors to ensure that cancer cells in the body don’t continue to build a resistance to the treatment being used. Flow cytometry and chemotherapy help immunotherapy be as successful as it is.

The successof Immunotherapy

Tumors have been shrinking and patients have been positively responding to immunotherapy treatments. Deputy Cheif medical officer for the American Cancer Society Leonard Lichtenfeld, has found that immunotherpy is working against the most advanced cancers. Lichtenfeld says, "What we're seeing is that with a disease like melanoma, where we had nothing much to offer, we now have 35 to 40 percent of the patients with the most advanced disease responding in a meaningful way to immunotherapy." Melanoma a highly advanced skin cancer used to have limited options, however, new options have been responding with immunotherapy. By improving treatment options for melanoma doctors are hoping to be able to develop more treatment options for other advanced cancers. Mary Williams was a patient of immunotherapy cancer treatment for melanoma. Williams states that “as (her) trial expanded, nearly 58 percent of patients had "significant reduction in tumor size," an achievement (her) doctor, Memorial Sloan Kettering's Chief of Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service Jedd Wolchok, MD, noted at the time by saying, "Just five years ago, many of these patients would have been expected to live for only seven months following diagnosis." While other patients receiving immunotherapy had reductions in tumor size, Williams severe melanoma cancer was entirely fought off by her immune system. By shrinking and killing this cancer, researchers are improving the life span of people living with melanoma cancer and reducing the amount of palliative care they recieve. The success of immunotherapy also goes hand in hand with a few common cons found in cancer treatments.

The cons of Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

The treatment of immunotherapy has a few cons including the price and the side effects from enduring the treatment. The American Cancer Society writes that, side effects of immunotherapy treatment include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever or chills, skin irritation/rash, and a cough. By receiving immunotherapy patients reported each of the following conditions. A majority of these side effects are caused because the immune cells attack healthy cells that have to reproduce before they can fight off the system. Along with these side effects is the price of the treatment. Patient Steve Cara joined a clinical trial in hopes to battle off his lung cancer. Grady states that, “in December 2014, he began treatment with two checkpoint inhibitors. They cost about $150,000 a year, but as a study subject he did not have to pay.” If Mr. Cara didn’t join the clinical trial he would have had to pay the 150,000 dollars out of pocket. The price of immunotherapy depends on the type and will continue to increase as the demand grows. The cons of immunotherapy are something to consider, but so are the immediate advantages and positive results.

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment Video

Cancer Treatment Centers of America explains how cancer cells blend into the immune system. Dr. Bruce Gershenhorn describes how immunotherapy cancer treatment can help our powerful immune systems realize that the cancer is a foreign invader.

Works Cited

“Cancer Infographics CTCA.”, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, 1 January 2016,

“China's cancer doctor for the very sick and very rich.” TCA Regional News. Proquest. 24 June 2016,

Farley, Pete. “New 'Immunoprofiler' Initiative will Advance Drug Discovery, Precision Immunotherapy for Cancer.” UC San Francisco, 19 January 2017,

Grady, Denise. “Harnessing the Immune System to Fight Cancer.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 July 2016,

“Researchers take step toward eliminating cancer reoccurrence: When combined, immunotherapy and chemotherapy kill a majority of dormant tumor cells.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 1 September 2016,

Williams, Mary Elizabeth. "Could This Be the End of Cancer?" Health, vol. 30, no. 4. 23 May 2016, EBSCOhost,

Created By
Allison Roe


Created with images by Libertas Academica - "Figure 1"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.