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Immunotherapy

The NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center remains at the leading edge of cancer treatment through the application of immunotherapy. In contrast to chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy harnesses the power of your body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. This innovative approach aims to slow and stop the spread of the disease by eliminating cancerous cells and tumors.

Our oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, radiation oncologists, surgical and molecular pathologists, geneticists, researchers, and other medical specialists. They determine on a case-by-case basis the best treatment approach with the available types of immunotherapy drugs, as well as carefully manage potential side effects.

Advances in immunotherapy have been driven by a class of drugs collectively known as “immune checkpoint inhibitors.” These anticancer drugs, including ipilimumab, pembrolizumabnivolumab, cemiplimab, avelumab, durvalumab, atezolizumab and many others in clinical trials, were initially used to treat melanoma and lung cancer patients. They have shown significant success, leading to some cures for advanced or stage 4 melanoma and lung cancer patients and those with other cancers.

FDA-approved immunotherapy medications are now available to treat a significant number of cancers, including lung, melanoma, Merkel cell and squamous skin cancers, kidney, head and neck, bladder, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stomach, esophagus and liver cancer. Immunotherapy is also used for patients with some forms of breast cancers and cancers with certain defining molecular characteristics regardless of where they originated in the body.

Personalized Immunotherapy Treatment

Like other cancer treatments, immunotherapy may lead to the development of side effects. They vary from patient to patient but are typically treatable and reversible upon completion of treatment. Side effects from immunotherapy are uniquely different from those generally associated with chemotherapy. Patients undergoing immunotherapy require team-based surveillance and education to ensure their health and well-being while under treatment.

Our team at the Kellogg Cancer Center maintains constant communication through our electronic medical records system, as well as a collaborative clinical care network to monitor and quickly address any symptoms and medical concerns. We perform ongoing education for staff both within our cancer center and for collaborating physicians and services who may care for our patients. Thanks to generous donors, we are expanding our expertise into a formal immunotherapy program

Research and Clinical Trials

Innovations in immunotherapy offer great promise for a growing number of cancer types. To identify more effective and innovative immunotherapy drugs for improved patient outcomes, our highly-skilled researchers participate in ongoing innovative clinical trials. Additionally, we participate in research trials using DNA and other “biomarkers” to correlate specific factors to patient outcomes, including cancer response (tumors shrinking), survival and side effects.

Today, more than a third of our clinical research activities are immunotherapy-focused.

For More Information

For more information about immunotherapy for cancer treatment, please contact the Kellogg Cancer Center at 847.570.2112.

T cell destroying a cancer cell

Checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy drugs enable the body's immune system to identify cancer cells and attack them, actually eliminating tumors. Here, a T cell destroys a cancer cell.