Issue IntroductionsImmunotherapy

The Immunotherapy Surge

In this special issue focused on immunotherapy, we take a deep dive into this exciting type of treatment, highlighting the role of genetic testing and new developments in lung, skin, and bladder cancer in improving patient outcomes.
July 2021 – Immunotherapy
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer,
Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Developer of Work Stride—Managing Cancer at Work
Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

For decades, well, actually centuries, we have been using 3 methods to get rid of cancer and keep it at bay—cut it out (by surgery), burn it (with radiation), or poison it (with chemotherapy). Granted, there are now, and have been for several decades, additional methods, such as biologic drugs known as targeted therapies, and of course hormonal therapy, that we have also used for a very long time.

It has taken a great deal of scientific knowledge and research, which have been in progress for more than 2 decades, to develop a new category of cancer treatment—immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy uses your own body’s immune system to get rid of cancer cells in your body. This type of therapy may sound simple, but trust me, it is not. Immunotherapy is probably the most complex therapy that has ever been developed. And although you may think that it should be free of side effects, it is not. It does have side effects, some of which may be severe, but overall immunotherapy has fewer side effects than some other types of cancer therapies.

A lot happens within your body when this type of therapy is infused into your system to jumpstart your immune system and target it to do its job in eliminating cancer cells. Does it always work? No. But there is promise today and good evidence that it is extending lives, especially for those with advanced cancers, who otherwise would be looking at a short period of time to still be survivors.

This can be seen in this special issue in the 2 patient stories surrounding 2 different types of advanced cancer. These stories highlight the survival benefits that these patients received through the use of immunotherapy. Specifically, each of them has been using a type of immunotherapy known as a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor, because they inhibit certain proteins, called PD-1 or PD-L1, on some cancer cells. By blocking these proteins, these immunotherapies enhance the immune response against cancer cells, thereby improving the patient’s chance of better outcomes and survival.

We hope you learn a great deal from this special issue. Share it with other people, too, so they could be enlightened about this new type of cancer treatment that holds huge promise today and in the future.

Share this:

Recommended For You
Side-Effects ManagementImmunotherapy
Immunotherapy Side Effects: Symptoms and Management
By Mu Lin
Many side effects of immunotherapy can be effectively managed with early detection and intervention. It is important that patients with cancer and their caregivers know what symptoms to look for.
Issue Introductions
Turning Knowledge Into Action
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Lillie Shockney introduces the June issue, which features articles on misinformation in cancer, the link between alcohol and cancer, sexuality and cancer, and patient stories related to brain cancer, multiple myeloma, melanoma, and more.
Issue Introductions
Fighting Fear with Information and Knowledge
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
A thread that runs through this issue is how emotions are driven by fear, and how empowering yourself with information is your best bet for beating the paralyzing fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis.
Issue Introductions
Financial Support for Patients with Cancer
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Most pharmaceutical companies today are providing financial assistance for their cancer drugs, as do nonprofit foundations and advocacy organizations. This 2022 Guide is organized by cancer type, listing the drugs prescribed for each type of cancer, so you could go directly to the section relevant to your treatment.
Last modified: March 10, 2022

Subscribe to CONQUER: the patient voice

Receive timely cancer news & updates, patient stories, and more.

Race or Ethnicity
Profession or Role
Primary Interest