Explainer: Immunotherapy

Posted 6 Oct 2016.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are two well-known forms of cancer treatment. But what is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy was in the news earlier this year when it was revealed Hawthorn Football Club player Jarryd Roughhead was to undergo this course of treatment for his melanoma.

As Cancer Council CEO Professor Sanchia Aranda explained at the time, immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment which has been developed for decades by both Australian and international experts. But only recently has it come into common usage.

"Generally immunotherapy is the use of medicines in a way that stimulates your own immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells," Professor Aranda explained.

"Your immune system is killing off cells all the time that have the potential to become cancer. The immunotherapy drugs [of which there are two classes] basically boost the immune response.

"They cause immune cells or T-cells -- which are a particular a particular type of white blood cells -- to attack the melanoma (or cancer) cells. They recognise a particular protein expressed by the cancer cell, and they attach to that and then basically gobble the cancer cells up."

On Monday October 10, Professor Michael Millward will address a number of common questions regarding immunotherapy such as:

What is immunotherapy?
What does it involve?
How does it work?
What are the limitations?
What is the evidence?
Will it work for me? how do we know?
What are the future prospects?

The lecture is free, and all are welcome!

Where: State Library Theatre, Alexander Library Building, Francis Street, Perth.
When: Monday, October 10, 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Find out more about our Cancer Update Series here.

If you're interested in reading more about the different types of treatment for cancer, see our 'Understanding Treatment' booklets, here.


Found in:  News - 2016 | View all news