Immunotherapy works by boosting body's own natural defenses to fight cancer. It is a biological therapy that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.40 Certain types of immunotherapy attack cancer or slow its spread to other parts of the body. Others make it easier for the immune system to destroy cancer cells.40
How immunotherapy works?
One reason that cancer cells thrive is because they are able to hide from the immune system.41 Immunotherapy is designed to activate the immune system, making it able to recognize cancer cells and destroy them.
Immunotherapy offers several different approaches to treating cancer. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells so it is easier for the immune system to find and destroy them, while other immunotherapies boost the immune system to work better against cancer.41
Immunotherapy could: 42
Immunotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Immunotherapy can be a powerful treatment option for patients with lung cancer. Recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors (a type of immunotherapy) have become an important tool for treating advanced NSCLC. Currently, the drugs available include PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors.43 Your doctor will discuss with you if immunotherapy is going to benefit you and recommend the most appropriate treatment for you to take.
40. ASCO. Understanding Immunotherapy. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/sites/cancer.net/files/asco_answers_immunotherapy.pdf. Accessed: 2 May 2019.
41. NCI. Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
42. Cancer.Net. Understanding Immunotherapy. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/immunotherapy-and-vaccines/understanding-immunotherapy. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
43. ACS. Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/immunotherapy.html. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
44. LCA. Immunotherapy Treatments Approved for Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://lungcanceralliance.org/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-options/immunotherapy/checkpointinhibitors/pdl1/stage3approval-3/. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
45. HOPA. Pharmacist's Applications to Practice: Durvalumab (Imfinzi) for Urothelial Cancer. Available at: http://www.hoparx.org/drug-updates-from-the-fda/durvalumab-imfinzi-astrazeneca-uk-limited. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
46. LCA. Immunotherapy Treatments Approved for Stage IV or metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://lungcanceralliance.org/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-options/immunotherapy/checkpointinhibitors/pdl1/stage3approval-2/. Accessed: 3 May 2019.
47. Scheel AH, Schäfer SC. J Thorac Dis 2018;10(3):1217-1219.