Immunotherapy: A new pillar in cancer treatment

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We count on our immune system to keep us healthy and now doctors say it's proving to be a powerful new tool in fighting cancer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) We count on our immune system to keep us healthy and now doctors say it's proving to be a powerful new tool in fighting cancer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
It's a treatment called immunotherapy. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It's a treatment called immunotherapy. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Doctor Wong said the list of cancers it works against is growing but also warns this is not as immediate as chemotherapy or radiation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Doctor Wong said the list of cancers it works against is growing but also warns this is not as immediate as chemotherapy or radiation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

We count on our immune system to keep us healthy and now doctors say it's proving to be a powerful new tool in fighting cancer.

It's a treatment called immunotherapy. You may have heard of it when President Jimmy Carter used it to fight his brain cancer.

Doctor Debra Wong from the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix explained how it works.

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"It's a type of therapy that harnesses one's own immune system and allows that immune system that we were born with to wake up, see a cancer, see foreign bodies i.e. cancer and go to that area to fight it," said Wong.

She said immunotherapy has been used for decades, specifically for melanoma but just recently started showing positive results on a broad scale.

Doctor Wong said the list of cancers it works against is growing but also warns this is not as immediate as chemotherapy or radiation.

It's basically a therapy to rebalance our body.

"Cancer is an imbalance where our immune system, while it was equipped to fight foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses, cancer cells...the cancers that we are faced with are very smart and learn to hide themselves from the immune system so our immune system no longer sees them," said Wong.

She said this is a great option for patients who may not be eligible for chemotherapy or other standard treatments.

Immunotherapy is delivered by IV infusion every two to four weeks.

Wong said patients who are currently battling cancer may see it integrated into their treatment.

For more information on immunotherapy and the University of Arizona Cancer Center, visit www.dignityhealth.org/uacc.

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