What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a way of treating cancer that really harnesses the body’s own immune system.
Typically when we use immunotherapy drugs, these are drugs that we inject intravenously, and for some cancers, most notably melanoma, they have really been a game changer. They have dramatically changed the survival and the outcome for people with that disease.
They work very well in other cancers, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, some lymphomas, some liver cancers, in addition, kidney cancer. They in most people are not a cure for the cancer, unfortunately, although they can result in quite longterm survival of many, many years.
One of the interesting things that we are now learning about immunotherapy is how best to combine it with other treatments. Immunotherapy at this stage is still in its infancy, and it will be some years before we understand how best to take advantage of it.
Professor Michael Boyer is Medical Oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
Last Reviewed: 28/09/2020