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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 traditional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy utilizes the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells with the goals of slowing and stopping the spread of the disease and eliminating cancerous cells and tumors. Our oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, geneticists, researchers, and other medical specialists to determine on a case-by-case basis the best treatment approach with the available types of immunotherapy drugs, as well as management of its side effects.

The significant progress with immunotherapy is due to the development of a class of drugs collectively known as “check point inhibitors”. These cancer immunotherapy drugs, ipilimumab, pembrolizumab and nivolumab, were initially used to treat melanoma patients and have shown significant success, including some cures for stage 4 melanoma patients. FDA-approved immunotherapy medications are now available to treat a significant number of cancers, including lung, kidney, head and neck, bladder cancers and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To expand these positive results in additional cancer types and 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.

Like traditional cancer treatments, there are potential immunotherapy side effects, which vary from patient to patient, but are typically treatable and reversible upon completion of treatment. Our team at the Kellogg Cancer Center maintains constant communication through our electronic medical records system, as well as traditional forms of communication and a collaborative care network to monitor and quickly address any symptoms and ensure patients receive high quality care at every stage of treatment.

For More Information

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

Dr. Bruce Brockstein gives an overview of immunotherapy for cancer.

Listen to Dr. Bruce Brockstein give an overview on the benefits of using immunotherapy for cancer care.

T cell destroying a cancer cell

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