Immune response to a cancer

There is some evidence that cancer cells have surface membrane antigens called tumour-specific antigens (TSA) or tumour-associated antigens (TAA) that are recognized by the immune system as non-self, and can elicit an immune response. Antibodies secreted by B-lymphocytes will coat tumour cells and with the help of complement and phagocytic cells can cause tumour cell destruction. CD8+ T-lymphocytes and NK cells can cause direct tumour cell killing, whereas CD4+ T-cells release cytokines to augment tumour cell killing by macrophages. The concept of immune surveillance as protection against cancer, whereby lymphocytes continuously check dividing cells for mutations and destroy unacceptable cells, has not been proved (Fig. 11.15).

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