Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment. In some cases, immunotherapy given after surgery can help prevent melanoma from recurring. Immunotherapy is often used in combination with another form of cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy. Combination therapy may be more effective in treating melanoma. Types of immunotherapy used to treat melanoma include:
- Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy: Some cancer cells have certain proteins, called checkpoint proteins, that keep the body’s immune cells from attacking and killing the cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors block these checkpoint proteins, allowing the body’s immune cells to do their job and kill the cancer cells.
- Interferon: Interferon affects the division of cancer cells and can slow tumor growth.
- Interleukin-2 (IL-2): IL-2 boosts the growth and activity of many of the body’s immune cells, especially a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are able to attack and kill cancer cells.
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to attack cancer cells without attacking normal, healthy cells as chemotherapy and radiation therapy do. Targeted therapy may be used in combination with other therapies to treat late stage melanoma, or it may be used following surgery to help prevent melanoma from returning. There are a number of different targeted therapies being used and studied in the treatment of melanoma.