The body’s immune system plays an important role in fighting cancer. The immune system is a group of special cells and proteins that protect the body from infection or disease. Immunotherapy works by enabling certain parts of a person's immune system to better recognize and fight cancer. Immunotherapy may also affect normal healthy cells. Immunotherapy is not chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It uses the body’s own immune system to slow or stop cancer growth and is given as an infusion.

Depending on what type of lung cancer you have, immunotherapy may be a treatment option for you. If you have stage 3 NSCLC, there is a treatment option available for people whose cancer can’t be removed by surgery and has not progressed after concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The immune system may see cancer cells as foreign and attack and kill them, but not always. That’s because: 

  • Cancer cells have similarities to normal cells, so the immune system may not recognize them as a threat
  • The immune system’s response to cancer cells may not be strong enough to kill them
  • Cancer cells may be able to trick the immune system into not recognizing them as foreign

Side effects depend on the particular immunotherapy, but they can be serious. Please contact your healthcare team immediately if you experience any side effects or symptoms.