We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Immunotherapy?

By K T Solis
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses the body's immune system to combat disease. The therapy is administered through synthetic immune system proteins or by helping the body's immune system to work more efficiently. These forms of therapy are often used in addition to other treatments to help cancer patients.

The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against harmful germs. It is comprised of organs, cells, and substances that work together to achieve the goal of a healthy body. Cells in the immune system and the substances created by these cells move throughout the body, constantly protecting it from harmful germs.

At times the ever-vigilant immune system is unable to identify cancer cells as foreign invaders. For this reason, cancers are able to slip through the line of defense and enter the body. Immunotherapy is one way that doctors try to help the body fight against cancer.

In order to help the body recognize cancer cells, doctors prescribe immunotherapy to some patients. Two principle types of immunotherapy exist: active and passive. Active immunotherapy uses the immune system to combat disease while passive immunotherapy uses synthetic substances to help the immune system.

A popular form of passive immunotherapy is called monoclonal antibody therapy. In this particular type of therapy, vast numbers of antibodies are created inside a medical lab. The antibodies are injected into the patient's vein. Patients may experience mild side effects similar to an allergic reaction. These may include headache, nausea, rashes, fever, diarrhea, and other similar minor reactions.

Cancer vaccines are a form of active immunotherapy used by physicians for their cancer patients. Such vaccines work against viruses that cause cancer. They help the immune system combat the cancer that has invaded the body. Cancer vaccines are comprised of cell parts, pure antigens, or cancer cells. Most cancer vaccines are in the experimental stage, as scientists are still learning about their effectiveness.

Doctors use other active immunotherapies in their patients as well. Each method is designed increase the ability of the body's immune system. One particular active therapy involves removing tumor samples from the patient.

In this particular treatment, tumors that have immune system cells located inside them are the ones that are removed. The tumors are then reproduced in the lab and treated with interleukin-2, a substance that helps to boost the immune system. Finally, the tumor cells are injected into the patient so that the cells can get to work fighting the cancer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Monika — On Oct 04, 2011

@starrynight - Active immunotherapy does sound pretty promising as far as cancer treatments go. Maybe they could even develop a vaccine that could be used before people develop cancer, like most other vaccines are.

I think it's important to note that while this sounds cool, the article stated that it's used along with other treatments. So immunotherapy probably has pretty far to go before it will be a cure or even a preventative measure against cancer.

By starrynight — On Oct 03, 2011

This treatment sounds really neat! I must admit, I'm not on the cutting edge of medicine or anything. However, I had no idea that they could generate cells from a patients own tumor to help fight cancer!

It's stuff like this that makes me thing we'll be finding a cure for cancer sometime soon. I know that cancer vaccines are still experimental, but I feel like they'll be more mainstream in a few more years.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.