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Healthcare: Cancer Care

Immunotherapy

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Immunotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer

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In cancer immunotherapy (sometimes referred to as “immuno-oncology”), the patient’s own immune system is activated and educated to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Once the immune system has learned to respond to a particular type of cancer, the patient’s immune cells can continue to patrol the body and help protect from recurrence. Immunotherapy has become an important approach to head and neck cancer, with a class of treatments known as “checkpoint inhibitors,” which interfere with the ability of tumors to shut down anti-tumor immune responses, recently receiving FDA approval for head and neck cancer.

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Clinical Trials

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Other approaches to immunotherapy for head and neck cancer being tested in clinical trials include:

  • Cancer vaccines
  • Innate immune-stimulating agents
  • Therapeutic antibodies

For a list of immunotherapy clinical trials for head and neck cancer see Cancer Immunotherapy - Head and Neck Cancer.

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Andrew Sikora, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program at Baylor College of Medicine, describes how clinical trials are demonstrating the amazing power of immunotherapy to train the patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.