Can Your Immune System Fight Cancer?
Now that we know how the immune system works, we can now talk about how to prevent cancer or fight it. The short answer to this is that yes, our immune system can actually find and destroy cancer cells.
Some of the cells that our immune system sends out are able to locate cancer cells and deal with them accordingly2. It’s even possible that your immune system has already destroyed any pre-cancer or cancer cells without you even knowing it.
Now, you might be asking, “If the immune system can fight off cancer, why do people still get sick?” The answer to this question is that our immune system is not always enough when it comes to how to prevent cancer.
Our immune system typically looks for what’s known as neoantigens when fighting off cancer cells. These neoantigens are found on the surface of cancer cells, and are a type of protein fragment.
When the immune cells detect neoantigens, they start to attack the cell and destroy it since they recognize it as an invader. However, this only works if there are enough antigens on the cell’s surface.
If there are not enough neoantigens, then our immune system can’t detect the cancer cells at all. This means that they are unable to destroy it, and cancer can start to spread. By the time the immune system detects the cancer cells, it’s usually too late3.
So yes, the immune system can fight cancer, but it’s usually not enough.