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Why do doctors sometimes combine cancer treatments?

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To boost the odds of a cure or remission, cancer doctors often combine treatments. Sometimes, one type of treatment can help another work better, or two drugs make each other more potent.

In the case of immunotherapies -- treatments that use the body’s immune system against cancer -- combination therapies are common, since many of the therapies are new. Pairing them, or adding immunotherapy to a course of radiation, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy, has worked with more than one type of cancer.

From: Combination Care for Cancer WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: “What is Combination Therapy?”

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: “Nivolumab with chemotherapy improves response, survival in AML study patients.”

Clinical and Translational Science : “Immunotherapy and Novel Combinations in Oncology: Current Landscape, Challenges, and Opportunities.”

American Association for Cancer Research: “Stepping Into the Era of Combination Cancer Therapies, Part 1: Combining Immunotherapies.”

American Cancer Society: “What is Cancer Immunotherapy?”

Journal of Experimental Medicine : “Combination immunotherapy for cancer.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “FDA Approves An MSK-Pioneered Combination Of Two Cancer-Fighting Drugs.”

Cancer Research Institute: “About Clinical Trials.”

National Cancer Institute: “Immunotherapy,” “Radiation Therapy for Cancer.”

Future Oncology : “The Promise of Combining Radiation Therapy and Immunotherapy.”

Weill Cornell Medicine: “The promise of combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.”

Cancer Research : “Autophagy Induced by Conventional Chemotherapy Mediates Tumor Cell Sensitivity to Immunotherapy.”

Oncology Live : “Nivolumab Plus Chemotherapy Shows Similar Efficacy to Nivolumab Monotherapy in NSCLC.”

Nature Reviews Cancer : “Combining immunotherapy and targeted therapies in cancer treatment.”

Macmillan Cancer Support: “Nivolumab (OPDIVO).”

National Cancer Institute: "FDA Approves Nivolumab and Ipilimumab Combination for Advanced Kidney Cancer," "Combination of Immunotherapy Drugs Approved for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on January 20, 2019

SOURCES:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: “What is Combination Therapy?”

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: “Nivolumab with chemotherapy improves response, survival in AML study patients.”

Clinical and Translational Science : “Immunotherapy and Novel Combinations in Oncology: Current Landscape, Challenges, and Opportunities.”

American Association for Cancer Research: “Stepping Into the Era of Combination Cancer Therapies, Part 1: Combining Immunotherapies.”

American Cancer Society: “What is Cancer Immunotherapy?”

Journal of Experimental Medicine : “Combination immunotherapy for cancer.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “FDA Approves An MSK-Pioneered Combination Of Two Cancer-Fighting Drugs.”

Cancer Research Institute: “About Clinical Trials.”

National Cancer Institute: “Immunotherapy,” “Radiation Therapy for Cancer.”

Future Oncology : “The Promise of Combining Radiation Therapy and Immunotherapy.”

Weill Cornell Medicine: “The promise of combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.”

Cancer Research : “Autophagy Induced by Conventional Chemotherapy Mediates Tumor Cell Sensitivity to Immunotherapy.”

Oncology Live : “Nivolumab Plus Chemotherapy Shows Similar Efficacy to Nivolumab Monotherapy in NSCLC.”

Nature Reviews Cancer : “Combining immunotherapy and targeted therapies in cancer treatment.”

Macmillan Cancer Support: “Nivolumab (OPDIVO).”

National Cancer Institute: "FDA Approves Nivolumab and Ipilimumab Combination for Advanced Kidney Cancer," "Combination of Immunotherapy Drugs Approved for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on January 20, 2019

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