Understanding Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that leverages the power of the body’s immune system to prevent, detect, manage, and eliminate cancer. Each June is recognized as Cancer Immunotherapy Month and is an important time to raise awareness about immunotherapy and the advancements in immunotherapy cancer treatments. Discover the different types of immunotherapy treatments and types of cancer treated by immunotherapy. 

The immune system is the body’s natural defense system and has the ability to program exactly how cancer cells appear, aiding it in targeting and removing cancer. The immune system is powerful, precise, and adaptive, which is why using immunotherapy as a form of cancer treatment often yields successful outcomes. 

What Cancers Are Treated with Immunotherapy

From using the first FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment (BCG) in 1990 to treat bladder cancer to using preventative immunotherapy vaccines to treat cervical cancer, there are a variety of cancer types being treated with immunotherapy. 

Bladder Cancer 

  • Breast Cancer 
  • Cervical Cancer 
  • Colorectal Cancer 
  • Esophageal Cancer 
  • Liver Cancer 
  • Lung Cancer 
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma and Skin Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer 
  • Prostate Cancer

Types of Immunotherapy

  • Immune Checkpoint Therapy
  • Adoptive Cellular Therapy
  • Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) Natural Killer (NK) Cell Therapy 
  • Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte (TIL) Therapy
  • Endogenous T cell (ETC) Therapy
  • Cancer Vaccines 
  • Monoclonal Antibodies
  • Cytokine Therapy 

How is Immunotherapy Given?

Immunotherapy is given in different ways depending on the type of immunotherapy. 

  • Intravenous (IV): The immunotherapy is given directly into a vein.
  • Oral: Oral immunotherapy comes in pills or capsules to be swallowed. 
  • Topical: Topical immunotherapy comes in a cream that can be applied to the skin.
  • Intravesical: The immunotherapy goes directly into the bladder.


American Cancer Society: Immunotherapy

Cancer Research Institute: Immunotherapy By Cancer Type

NIH: National Cancer Institute: Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer


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