How does Immunotherapy work against cancer?
As part of its normal function, the immune system detects and destroys abnormal cells and most likely prevents or curbs the growth of many cancers. For instance, immune cells are sometimes found in and around tumors. These cells, called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes or TILs, are a sign that the immune system is responding to the tumor. People whose tumors contain TILs often do better than people whose tumors don’t contain them.
Even though the immune system can prevent or slow cancer growth, cancer cells have ways to avoid destruction by the immune system. For example, cancer cells may:
- Have genetic changes that make them less visible to the immune system.
- Have proteins on their surface that turn off immune cells.
- Change the normal cells around the tumor so they interfere with how the immune system responds to the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy helps the immune system to better act against cancer.