Cancer immunotherapy or immuno-oncology encompasses treatments that harness and enhance the immune response to attack cancer, and represents the most promising new cancer treatment approach since the development of the first chemotherapies.
Because of the immune system’s extraordinary power, capacity for memory, exquisite specificity, central and universal role in human physiology, these treatments have the potential to achieve complete, long-lasting remissions and cancer cures, with few or no side effects, and for any cancer patient, regardless of their cancer type. During the lifetime, the immune system’s natural capacity to detect and destroy abnormal cells may prevent the development of many cancers. However, many cancers avoid immune detection and destruction by the immune system by developing mechanisms that reduce the immune system’s ability to target tumor cells.
Immunotherapy-based strategies restore or enhance the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. In just the past few years, the rapidly advancing field of cancer immunology has produced several new cancer treatments for treating cancer that increase durable therapeutic responses. These new treatments either stimulate the activity of specific components of the immune system or counteract signals produced by cancer cells that suppress immune responses.