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Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, in much the same way that it attacks bacteria or viruses. Immunotherapy has become a recent treatment option for patients with cancer and an essential part of our personalized approach to precision medicine. At Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, immunotherapy is part of how we provide better outcomes while focusing on patient care with humankindness.

When Is Immunotherapy Needed

Immunotherapy activates or suppresses your body’s immune system, allowing your cells to treat the cancer. In recent years, there have been major advances in this field of cancer treatment. As an innovative leader in clinical research, Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s utilizes various types of immunotherapies for a variety of conditions, including:

I believe in providing my patients with all potential treatment options and tailoring treatment recommendations to each patient within a context of evidence-based medicine.”

Shyamal Patel, MD
Radiation Oncology


“Thirty years ago, getting melanoma would have been a different story. I thank my lucky stars I got referred to the right people at the right place to help me beat this.”

“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have lived as long as I have. I’m healthy and enjoying my family. I feel so fortunate.”

Types of Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy can be given in the form of drugs, which means that we extract and modify a patient’s own immune cells before infusing them back into the body. We are utilizing immunotherapies every day in many types of tumors and different cancer types. Immunotherapy treatment options include:

  • Checkpoint Inhibitors – Release a natural brake on your immune system so that immune cells called T cells recognize and attack tumors.
  • Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines – Train your body to protect itself against its own damaged or abnormal cancer cells.
  • And coming soon, Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy – An approach in which a patient’s own immune cells are engineered to make a new protein, turning the cells into supercharged cancer fighters.
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Patients of Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s know they are receiving precision medicine from a multidisciplinary team of experienced cancer experts.

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