About biological therapy
This page has general information about biological therapy. There is information below about
Biological therapies are treatments that act on processes in cells. They may
- Stop cancer cells from dividing and growing
- Seek out cancer cells and kill them
- Encourage the immune system to attack cancer cells
There are many different types of biological therapy and they may be called
- Biological Response Modifiers (BRMs)
- Biologic agents
- Targeted therapies
Whether you have biological therapy depends on
- The type of cancer you have
- How far your cancer has spread (the stage)
- Other cancer treatments you’ve had
Many types of biological therapies for cancer are still experimental. They are not suitable for treating all types of cancers. But biological therapy could be the best treatment for some cancers.
The next page in this section tells you about the different types of biological therapy drugs.
Immunotherapy is one type of biological therapy. It uses substances produced by the body’s immune system. These substances help the body to fight infection and disease. Other types of biological therapies use substances that are still natural, but are not part of the immune system. There is information about the immune system in the about cancer section.
Biological therapies can be quite confusing. So far, there isn’t really a simple way of grouping them that is easy to follow. Some drugs are grouped according to the effect they have, for example, drugs that block cancer cell growth. But other groups include a particular type of drug, such as monoclonal antibodies (which target specific proteins on cancer cells). So some drugs belong to more than one group. For example, a drug that works by blocking cancer cell growth may also be a monoclonal antibody.
The best thing is not to worry about how doctors and researchers group the drugs. All you really need to know is what the aim of the treatment is and what the side effects are likely to be.
Our cancer drug finder includes all the biological therapies that we cover on this website. Each of these pages tells you a bit about the drug, and its likely side effects. The list is arranged in alphabetical order and we've listed the drugs by their brand name and their generic name, to make them easier to find – for example, Avastin and bevacizumab.
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