How the immune system respond to cancer cells

Human’s body is a complex structure that is able to protect itself against infections caused by parasites, viruses, fungi or bacteria and other forms of illness. This forms the basic function of the immune system in a human body. Immune response is the process whereby a body’s immune system experiences several responses and reactions in order to destroy the cells and pathogens that cause infection and illness.

Cancer cells being malignant in nature they can cause the immune system of human body to weaken and then fight back. The most important part of this paper is to describe the response of a human body’s immune system in case of an attack from a cancerous cell. The main function of an immune system is to fight infection that so that exactly what it does when confronted with cancer cells.

When a cell of human body immune system detects cancer cells in the body, it normally considers them as abnormal cells and launches an attack against them. However in most cases, immune system is not able to eradicate cancer cells effectively. Immune system in a human body can either protect the body naturally or due to earlier exposure to the disease causing pathogens of the infection.

In natural immunity, the immune system cells are at all times prepared to provide the human body with defense in case of attack from disease causing pathogens. The immune system when working under innate condition, it is able to act swiftly whenever the human body is under attack.

Causes of innate immunity system to the human body include:

Mucus produced on the linings of lungs and guts which then trap infectious cancer cells therefore preventing them from destroying the targeted part of the body.

The human skin creates a protective barrier for the human body against the cancer cells

Neutrophils which are components of the white blood cells in the human body system detect and attack cancer cells with an aim of destroying them as a natural defense.

Studies have proven that innate immune system has failed to protect the body of a human being fully from cancer cells. However, it would be wrong to make a conclusion that the body of cancer patient does not receive any protection from natural immune system.

Neutrophils as we have discussed earlier form that part of the white blood cells which fight any disease causing pathogens in human body. Whenever there is a pathogen detected by the human immune system, the neutrophils rush to the areas where infections have been detected. Upon reaching the pathogen, the neutrophils launch an attack on it with an aim of weakening it first of all before destroying it completely. If the neutrophils are successful in their endeavor, they then engulf them and then kill them completely using its natural chemicals. It is hard to imagine life without white blood cells especially the neutrophils because we could have been exposed to pathogens and several of us could have perished. An average normal human being should have a neutrophils count in a range of 2,000 to 7,500 in each and every cubic millimeter of his/her blood. When the count reduces below the recommended range, then such a person becomes susceptible to infections and illness such as cancer cells. The main duty of a cancer cells is mutate and then engulf neutrophils in the white blood cells.

The next type of immunity system that applies to a human body is widely known as the acquired immunity. This immune system protects the human body from diseases and infections that it had earlier been exposed. Human body is able to detect an infection or pathogen on its first entrance to the body and form antibodies to fight it in case it attacks the body once more. This kind of immunity does not apply to cancer cells because they are malignant in nature and have perfected the art of mutation. Due to this complex nature, they are able form shapes that resemble those of antibodies. When the antibodies approach such cancer cells they are attacked, engulfed and then destroyed completely reducing the white blood cells count. The cells that form the antibodies are T-cells and B-cells.

When cancer cells are introduced into the human body there are three key main cells that determine the human immune system response are the three and they form the main components of antibodies. These cells constitute the actual process of natural immunity of a body. Antigen Presenting Cells in the immune system are able to identify and carry the foreign antigens introduced during immunotherapy treatment of cancer cells and transport them to the T-cells. T-cells start to be replicate upon activation by the Antigen Presenting cells to become effective cells. These cells are able to fight and minimize the malignant nature of the cancer cells.

In summary the immune system of a human body responds through its antibodies which form part of the white cells when cancer cells invade the body.



Abbas AK, Lichman AH (2011). Basic Immunology

Drake CG (2010), Nat Rev Immunol, 10 (8), 593

De Viser, K.E, Eichten, A, & Coussens, L.M (2006). Paradoxical Immune system during cancer development, nature reviews cancer, 6(1), 24-37

Mullins DW, Sheasley SL, Restifo NP, Bull TNJ, FU Y-X, Engelhard VH, (2003). EXP Med, 198(7), 1023-1034

Kirkwood JM, Butterfield L.H, Tarhini AA, Zarour H, Kalinski P, Ferrone S, (2012), CA Canc. Clin, 62, 309-335

Klebanoff CA, Gattinnoni L, Restifo NP, (2006).Immunol Rev, 211, 214-224

Murphy K, Travers P, Walport M, (2008). Immunology. Garland Science Taylor and Frances Group, LLC,NewYork

Namm JP, Li Q, Lax X, et al (2012). J surg oncol. 105, 431-435

Sharma P, Wagner K, Wolchok JD, Allisor, (2011), Nat Rev Cancer, 11, 805-812

Ribas A, Butterfield L.H, Glaspy JA, (2003). Econs Js. Jclin Oncol, 21, 2415-2432