Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Biotherapy for cancer
Biotherapy, or biologic therapy, is treatment that uses living substances to treat disease. The substance may be a natural part of the body. Or it may be made in a lab, rather than by nature. For example, DNAor an antibodycould be used in biotherapy.
Biotherapy can treat the cancer itself or side effects of cancer treatment. The treatments work in different ways and are used for many types of cancer. Biotherapy can be used on its own, with other types of biotherapy, or with traditional treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
There are many types of biotherapy for cancer. Some have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Other types are still being researched. For these types of biotherapy, you may have to join a clinical trialto use them.
Immunotherapy and gene therapy are two types of biotherapy.
Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to treat an illness. This type of treatment can restore, boost, or redirect the immune system. Immunotherapy includes:
Gene therapy is a way to treat or prevent disease caused by abnormal genes. It can be done in several ways. A normal gene may be inserted to replace a gene that isn't working. An abnormal gene may be repaired. Or changes can be made to the gene so it doesn't continue to cause problems.
Some types of biotherapy have been studied or used longer than other types. It is important to ask your doctor about the research behind a type of biotherapy, why it might help you, and how likely it is to help you. Here are some questions to ask:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of:
May 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.