As the death toll from infectious disease has declined in the Western world, cancer has become the second-ranking cause of death there, led only by heart disease. Current estimates project that one person in three in the United States will develop cancer, and that one in five will die from it. From an immunologic perspective, cancer cells can be viewed as altered self-cells that have escaped normal growth-regulating mechanisms. This chapter examines the unique properties of cancer cells, paying particular attention to those properties that can be recognized by the immune system. The immune responses that develop to cancer cells, as well as the methods by which cancers manage to evade those responses, are then described. The final section describes current clinical and experimental immunotherapies for cancer.
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