Stimulating immune system a promising approach for ovarian cancer

So far one immunotherapy drug, Avastin, has been approved for treatment of ovarian cancer. Image: Everyday Health

(Julie Marks/ Everday Health) — Immunotherapy — a treatment that uses your body’s own immune system to fight cancer — has been a game-changer for people with some types of cancer.

While the therapy holds potential, researchers are still learning about how it affects ovarian cancer.

Most women with ovarian cancer will discover they have the disease when it’s already spread, or metastasized, to other parts of their body. Standard treatments, which usually include surgery and chemotherapy, are effective, but the cancer frequently returns.

Though only limited research currently supports the effectiveness of immunotherapy for ovarian cancer, it could one day be a standard of care for some women.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?
Your immune system attacks foreign substances and is your body’s defense against infections. Cancers are technically foreign to your body, so they should be recognized by the immune system. In patients who have cancer, however, often the immune system has been evaded or hijacked by the cancer through multiple mechanisms. The aim of new immunotherapies is to boost the natural defenses of your immune system toward cancer so that it can work more efficiently and overcome the ways in which cancer avoids being detected and killed by your immune system. (…)

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