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A primer on immunotherapy for mesothelioma

One of the most promising treatments for mesothelioma involves immunotherapy. Also called biologic therapy or cancer vaccines, immunotherapy looks to use the body’s own natural defenses to target cancer cells, stopping or at least slowing their growth.

At its most effective, immunotherapy can stop cancer from spreading and promote the body’s ability to destroy cancer cells. Because cancer compromises the immune system, the ability to boos the body's own defenses can play an integral role in successful treatment.

The immune system

Your immune system is a term for a collection of cells and organs that fight infections and diseases. In a healthy person, T-cells (and others) attack foreign substances, such as viruses, keeping the body healthy. T-cells also attack cancer cells, which are abnormal cells that the immune system recognizes as dangerous.

Fighting cancer with personalized treatment

Mesothelioma is difficult to fight through chemotherapy and radiation – although both treatments are often used. Surgery can also be problematic, particularly for older patients or patients with late-stage mesothelioma.

Still, using all three combined – called a “multi-modal” approach – is often recommended as the most promising treatment. As new research in immunotherapy continues to make ground, however, it may act as either a supplement to these existing treatments or as an alternative to chemoradiation and surgery.

Ask questions from your healthcare provider

We are not recommending any one type of treatment over another. The cancer treatment that is right for you will depend on your circumstances, goals and conversations you have with your healthcare provider.

We do recommend becoming as informed as possible about the benefits and potential risks of all treatments. A mesothelioma diagnosis is frightening. Understanding the potential treatment options available can lead not only to the most effective treatment available for you, but also help you to manage the stress and fear associated with this terrible disease.

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