While immunotherapy can offer successful treatment for many people, it’s important to remember that it isn’t always a cure-all and doesn’t work for everyone. Immunotherapy isn’t effective for all types of cancers and, in some people, immunotherapy may not work or may stop working after a period of time.
For example, immunotherapy has dramatically improved survival rates for people with advanced melanoma skin cancer. When a combination of two immunotherapies is used, ipilimumab and nivolumab, up to 50% of patients achieve long term remission and others are even cured, but unfortunately 50% of patients either do not respond or develop resistance to these treatments. It is results such as these that show the importance of developing and trialling new treatments.
Scientists are still trying to understand why some patients do not respond to immunotherapy, and why some cancers are more responsive to it than others. This is a significant focus of cancer research.