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Immunotherapy cells


One of many treatments for which patients are evaluated.

The Upstate Cancer Center offers precision treatments based on each persons type of cancer. One type of treatment is immunotherapy, which can be used to treat a wide variety of cancers.

The immune system works overall to help the body fight off disease. Immunotherapy uses the patient's own immune system to fight cancer by starting a response within in the body. It does so in such ways as building up the body's defenses or being used to attack invading cancer cells.

Immunotherapy techniques being used to treat cancer include:

  • Using immune system proteins. These are made in a lab to attack a specific part of a cancer cell.
  • Using immune checkpoint inhibitors. These help the patients immune system attack invading cancer cells.

Among the cancers treated with immunotherapy at Upstate are lung, breast and bladder cancer, and melanoma. The tumor treatment teams also assess each patient for their suitability and also will offer clinical trials to patients. Clinical trials are new and novel treatments that provide options for patients; there are several at Upstate that provide immunotherapy treatment. For example, clinical trials for patients with lung cancer, including stage 4 disease, may be eligible for the "EA5152-anvil trial." Other lung cancer trials include those for stage 3 disease (AFT-16), and early stage lung cancer after surgery (AFT-09). While many advanced lung cancer patients will qualify for immunotherapy trials, Upstate is also looking to help connect patients at an earlier stage in the disease cycle.

A patient's DNA also holds potential for immunotherapy treatment. By extracting DNA from a solid tumor, or looking for markers in a blood-borne cancer, the genetic signature of a patient's cancer may yield additional, personalized approaches to disease treatment. Upstate has its own molecular pathology diagnostic lab on site that performs this advanced work.

Upstate has been researching cancer and immunotherapy for more than 20 years.