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Immunotherapy drugs target specific cancer cells.
For example, rituximab (Mabthera®)| is a treatment used to treat some types of lymphoma. It attaches itself to a particular protein on the cancer cell and triggers the body’s own immune system to attack and destroy the cancer cells. Because it targets specific cells, other parts of the body are not affected and the side effects are usually mild.
Imatinib (Glivec®)| is another drug that’s mostly used to treat a particular form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia| and occasionally some other types of cancer. It works by blocking signals within cancer cells and preventing a series of chemical reactions that cause the cells to grow and divide.
Immunotherapy is only suitable for certain types of cancer|. It's usually given with chemotherapy|.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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