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There is growing interest regarding immunotherapy in the field of oncology, due particularly to the field’s new understanding of immune system modulation through the use of checkpoint inhibitors, comments Janice Dutcher, MD. These agents, such as anti-CTLA4 antibodies and anti-PD-L1 antibodies, allow the immune system to identify and exploit antigens that are tumor specific. Positive responses in renal cell carcinoma, melanoma, lung cancer, and prostate cancer have been demonstrated to date, suggesting that tumors may be more immunogenic than once believed.
Dutcher also comments on the therapeutic role of stereotactic radiation in combination with immunotherapy, which she designates as an under-explored area of research that requires further evaluation. This combination involves delivering local radiation to a targeted tumor to achieve an abscopal effect, or altering antigenic expression so that immunologic reactions may occur at sites that were not irradiated.