Immunotherapy: the new up-and-coming therapy in oncology - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Immunotherapy: the new up-and-coming therapy in oncology

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KENNEWICK, WA - What was once old, is now new again. Over the past ten years, there have been some medical advances when it comes to immunotherapy, which explains a rising popularity in this therapy. However, as old as it may be, immunotherapy is still in its experimental stages. So the very thing that could be helping you, could be hurting you.

Immunotherapies have become the hottest area in oncology. It's a more natural approach to fighting cancer and they can be used for almost every type of cancer.

"Immunotherapy is actually the only type of therapy out there that enables the immune system to basically wake up and say, 'hey, there's a cancer cell right underneath our nose'," said Dr. Brian Lawenda, Medical Director with Northwest Cancer Clinic.

While this type of treatment has been around for a while, it is still relatively new in the medical community and can come with unknown side effect. For example, cancer cells can sometimes disguise themselves as healthy cells, which in turn makes your immune system attack vital organs.

"The immune system actually attacks normal tissues and can actually shut them down," said Lawenda. "For example, it can attack the brain, it can attack our heart and it can attack our lungs."

Ron Nelson is a patient with Northwest Cancer Clinic, who has stage 4 Melanoma. He said immunotherapy was his best, worst option.

"No fear at this stage," said Nelson. "It's the least invasive, it's a chance and that's all you can ask for is a chance."

To learn more about what Dr. Brian Lawenda and his team provide for the community, you can click on this link: