Children's Health and Wellness

Immunotherapy: What Is It?

Your immune system protects you from illness and foreign substances that can harm you.

Illustration of the immune system
Click Image to Enlarge

Scientists have found a way to use the body's immune system to help treat or prevent many health problems. This treatment is known as immunotherapy.

Uses of immunotherapy

Immunotherapy may be used to:

  • Treat or manage cancer. Immunotherapy may be used with other treatments to help them work better. Immunotherapy works best to treat early-stage cancers.

  • Prevent cancer. Cancer vaccines help protect against viruses that can cause some cancers. One example is the vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV. This virus causes cervical cancer, as well as other cancers. 

  • Control asthma and allergy symptoms. Immunotherapy shots are often given to people with severe allergies or asthma. The shots start with a small amount of allergen. This helps the immune system build up a tolerance to that allergen. The person is then less sensitive to the allergen and has fewer symptoms.

Online Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunotherapy
Online Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunotherapy
Online Source: American Cancer Society
Online Source: Center for Disease Control
Online Source: National Cancer Institutes National Institutes of Health
Author: Rodriguez, Diana
Online Editor: Lucuski, Cristina
Online Medical Reviewer: Blaivas, Allen J., DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Brown, Kim, APRN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.