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Kidney Cancer: How Immunotherapy Can Help You

KidneysImmunotherapy’s ability to unlock and boost your body’s immune defenses holds promise for several cancers. One of them is cancer of the kidney, or renal cell carcinoma.

“In various ways, immunotherapy drugs allow a kidney cancer patient’s immune system to work better to fight the tumor,” says Brian Rini, MD, a genitourinary cancer specialist. This allows some patients to live longer.

How your immune system works
Your immune system’s molecules, cells and organ are the body’s first line of defense against infection and disease.

In essence, your immune system’s job is to keep you healthy by distinguishing normal cells from foreign cells. When it encounters foreign cells — such as bacteria, viruses or parasites — your immune system launches an attack.

At the same time, key molecules serve as “immune checkpoints,” shielding normal tissue from damage by blocking certain molecules and activating others.

Yet some cancer cells can find workarounds, slipping past your immune defenses, or hiding from them and surviving — only to show up later.

How immunotherapy is used