Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to fight your cancer. Roswell Park has been at the forefront of this work for many years and is now expanding ability to bring these emerging therapies to more patients faster.

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The body’s immune system is usually quite good at finding and defending itself from infections and disease. But cancer has a way of hiding from the immune system or preventing it from doing its job. Immunotherapy treatments power up the immune system so it is stronger and able to fight the cancer.

Significant breakthroughs in cancer research in the last decade have led to the emergence of several types of immunotherapies that are rapidly changing the standard of care for many cancer types — and bringing new hope to patients with difficult diagnoses.

Types of immunotherapy

When it comes to immunotherapy, one size does not fit all. Different types of cancer behave in different ways and require different plans of attack. By offering many kinds of immunotherapy — including some developed right here at Roswell Park — we increase the chances that we can help you.

Cellular therapies

Cellular therapies use your own immune cells called T cell lymphocytes, or T cells, as a type of “living drug.” T cells are special white blood cells that your body creates that have the potential to destroy cancer cells. Your T cells are strengthened and multiplied in a laboratory, and then returned to your body through an infusion, where they get to work fighting your cancer.

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Immune checkpoint therapy

Drugs such as Keytruda, Opdivo and Yervoy are examples of immune checkpoint therapy which helps you to mount a stronger immune attack on your cancer.

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Cancer vaccines

Provenge, an FDA-approved treatment for prostate cancer is one example. Roswell Park offers treatment vaccines for brain, lung, and ovarian cancer, melanoma and multiple myeloma.

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Monoclonal antibodies

These drugs target specific proteins associated with the cancer cells. The drug Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that targets breast or stomach cancer cells with higher levels of the HER2 protein.

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Oncolytic viral therapy

This approach uses a virus to infect and damage cancer cells, leaving healthy ones alone.

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Cytokines are special proteins produced by your white blood cells, which help control your immune system.

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Advantages of immunotherapy

Find out what breakthroughs our scientists are working on in their labs

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Immunotherapy is unique because it is personalized for each patient. With our onsite facilities and laboratories, we can work with you and create a customized treatment plan, based on specific genetic and biologic features of your cancer. Immunotherapies offer some advantages over other cancer treatments, such as: 

  • Reduced side effects. Immunotherapy targets cancer in a specific way with less harm to healthy cells.
  • Possibility for long-term, more durable remissions
  • Works on many types of cancer — even some that do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation.

Why Roswell Park for immunotherapy?

At Roswell Park, you can receive these innovative cancer treatments delivered by the pioneering experts who were central to their development, providing a level of experience and expertise unrivaled in the region.

What sets us apart