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CANCER: Immunotherapy holds hope and promise for some

Immunotherapy is a way to activate a cancer patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells through drug therapy.  It has proved wildly successful with some types of advanced cancers – skin, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung, kidney, and bladder – shrinking tumors (so that they may become operable) or even eliminating tumors.  President Jimmy Carter is perhaps the most famous success story, having been treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and the immunotherapy drug Keytruda, which has now become popularly known as the “Jimmy Carter drug.”

Researchers are not yet sure why immunotherapy works with some patients and not others, with some types of cancer and not others.  Nor are they sure yet how long to continue to administer immunotherapy.  The Grady article is a major story in the New York Times and the first in a series on immunotherapy.  The Fox article provides additional information about a clinical trial of Keytruda in the treatment of lung cancer, which was found to be so effective that the trial was halted so that the control patients could also benefit by it.


Grady, D. (2016, July 31). A sickened body as cancer weapon. The New York Times, 165(57310), 1, 20-22.  Click here: http://www.nytimes.com/images/2016/07/31/nytfrontpage/scannat.pdf

Fox, M. (2016, June 16). Lung cancer trial stopped after Jimmy Carter drug shrinks tumors. NBC News.  Click here: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/lung-cancer-trial-stopped-after-jimmy-carter-drug-stops-tumors-n593726  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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