Immunotherapy and Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, immunotherapy is defined as a treatment to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases.

Passive immunotherapy

Passive immunotherapy enhances pre-existing immune response and has a short life. Examples include monoclonal antibodies and cytokines.

Active immunotherapy

Active immunotherapy engages the immune system and is potentially durable. One example is therapeutic cancer vaccines.


Immunotherapies, such as monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, and therapeutic vaccines, have been approved by the FDA to treat certain cancers.2

FDA-Approved Immunotherapies*,2-6
Class Approvals
Monoclonal antibodies 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009
Checkpoint inhibitor 2011
Cytokines 1986, 1992, 1995, 1998
Therapeutic vaccine 2010
*Not inclusive of all immunotherapy classes.

Learn More About Types of Cancer Immunotherapy