Cancer and host defense mechanisms

E. M. Hersh, J. U. Gutterman, G. M. Mavligit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


While in the field of oncology few major advances have been made in the areas of surgery and radiotherapy in recent years, major advances have been made in the areas of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. There has been a great improvement in the understanding of the immune response and specific tumor immunity in both animals and man. The relation of immunologic function to cancer is important in all aspects of oncology, but particularly as related to therapeutics and specifically to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Cancer immunology includes the immunology of cancer etiology, tumor associated antigens and tumor immunity, the relation of immunocompetence or immunodeficiency to the stage and prognosis of cancer, the immunosuppressive effects of cancer therapy and recovery from those effects, and cancer immunotherapy. This review deals with the relation of immunocompetence and immunodeficiency to the etiology, histology, stage or extent, and prognosis of human cancer. The specific immune response to malignancy and its effectiveness in host control of cancer in animal and in man is complex. It involves T and B lymphocytes, cytotoxic antibody, antibody of the type involved in antibody dependent lymphocyte mediated cytotoxicity, circulating tumor antigens and antigen antibody complexes, blocking antibody, reticuloendothelial system function, and the function of monocytes, and macrophages. In the therapy setting, the balance between cell mediated and humoral immunity, and reticuloendothelial system (RES) activation are all influenced by therapy of each type. The relative importance and balance between these factors are not clearly understood at present, and concepts in this area are changing. In this paper the general or non tumor specific aspects of the immunology of cancer in man are discussed, but the fields of tumor antigens and tumor specific immunity are beyond its scope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-167
Number of pages35
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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