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The Healing Power of Immunotherapy to Fight Cancer: May 17, 2011

Harnessing the body's own healing power. It presents exciting new therapies in the fight against cancer.

There's good reason to believe that the key to curing cancer may be in your own body. Research is quickly expanding in the field of immunotherapy.

"Immunotherapy is using the patient's own immune system to trigger a favorable response against a tumor," says Dr. Frank Rodriguez. "When you choose the right patient and you give them these drugs you can have phenomenal responses."

Dr. Rodriguez is an oncologist who uses immunotherapy in his practice. Some of them have been around for years. They work by locating cancer cells, binding to them and then recruiting the immune system to attack the foreign cells.

There have been two new drugs that were recently approved. "One is for prostate cancer and then the other one just got approved the first week in May, that is for melanomas," says Dr. Rodriguez.

Both drugs are very new and early in their usage. While trials went well, doctors will need to get comfortable using them.

"It's going to take a little bit of time before those of us that are in private practice really gain a better understanding of what the real side effects are, once you start using them in a broad population," says Dr. Rodriguez.

Immunotherapy for lymphoma and breast cancer is widely available now. Research continues to uncover more of the body's healing power.