Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 23% of deaths from all causes. Cancer results from a multifactorial process characterized by uncontrolled cell growth as a result of inherited and de novo genetic mutations. Because their intrinsic regulation of gene expression has been altered from normal, cancer cells may resemble virus-infected cells in term of antigens produced. Thus, the immune system can typically identify, control, and eliminate precancerous cells the same way it would a virus-infected cell via recognition of MHC I. Abnormal cells that are able to avoid immune system recognition and removal will then have the opportunity to acquire more mutations, and continue to grow, ultimately developing into malignant tumors. There are various treatments for cancer that utilize immune targets, and depending on the type of cancer, they may suppress or even stimulate the immune system. Treatments for cancers of lymphocyte origin are generally aimed at suppressing their proliferation. Alternatively, immunotherapeutic treatments for certain tumors are aimed at stimulating the activation of T-cells that can help kill tumor cells. Other immunotherapeutic treatments utilize tumor-associated or specific antigens as targets of monoclonal antibodies in an effort to tag these cells for removal or alter their signaling processes. Because many cancer treatments often result in myelosuppression (anemia, neutropenia), treatment of chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression is also discussed.
KeywordsCarcinoma Sarcoma Lymphoma Leukemia Myeloma Tumor-specific antigens Tumor-associated antigens MHC class I Cytotoxic T cells CAR-T VEGF Anemia Neutropenia Thrombocytopenia
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