Immunology of Malignant Disease

  • R. W. Baldwin


The view that immunological reactions play a role in modifying or even controlling malignant disease has gained wide acceptance within recent years. This has come about first from the results of well-substantiated investigations showing that many experimental animal tumors induced by chemical carcinogens and oncogenic viruses as well as those of unknown (spontaneous) etiology elicit immune rejection reactions comparable in kind, if not in degree, with those causing tissue graft rejections (Baldwin, 1973; Hellström and Hellström, 1974b; Cerottini and Brunner, 1974). Secondly, clinical studies have reached the stage where laboratory tests for tumor-immune reactions, initially developed in well-defined animal systems, have positively identified specific responses against a number of human tumors. Thirdly, these laboratory findings are consistent with the small but impressive examples from clinical studies suggesting, but not proving, that immunological reactions may in some circumstances have been responsible for host control of malignant disease. This includes reports of spontaneous remission with a variety of cancers such as melanomata, neuroblastomata, and renal cell carcinomata (Everson and Cole, 1966). One can also cite cases of patients having had surgical removal of breast carcinoma who remain clinically free of disease for many years but eventually develop recurrent growths and the regression of Burkitt’ s lymphoma in patients receiving minimal chemotherapy (Burkitt, 1967); these phenomena suggest the involvement of host immune responses. Finally, there are the reports of increased incidences of malignant tumors in patients who have received continuous immunosuppressive therapy following organ transplantation (Penn, 1974). For example, of 432 patients receiving renal homografts in one center, 24 developed malignant disease. This incidence (5.6%) is approximately 100 times greater than that observed in the general population in the same age group, and in many instances malignancy developed within a relatively short time (1 to 92 months) after the commencement of immunosuppressive therapy (Penn, 1974).


Malignant Disease Lymphoid Cell Tumor Antigen Bacillus Calmette Guerin Tumor Rejection 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Baldwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Research Campaign LaboratoriesThe University of NottinghamNottinghamEngland

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