NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
November 23, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 45 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Community UpdateCommunity Update

New NCI Booklet Explains Biological Therapy

The growing use of interleukin-2 for the treatment of melanoma, the approval of Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) for treating chronic myeloid leukemia, and the use of Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2+ breast cancer have one thing in common: They are all biological agents used as treatment options for cancer patients. Biological therapy uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or reduce the side effects of some cancer treatments.

Biological therapy is a relatively new addition to the cancer treatment arsenal of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, biological agents are not only used for treatment, they also help manage side effects associated with chemotherapy. As new agents are discovered and approved, nearly every cancer patient in the country is likely to encounter a biological agent at some point during the course of treatment.

NCI has developed a new booklet, Biological Therapy, to provide patients with essential information as they prepare for biological treatment. The booklet also encourages patients to discuss any questions they have with their doctors or nurses, and can serve as a complement to this patient-caregiver dialogue.

To order the free booklet, call 1-800-4-CANCER, or visit The booklet can be viewed online at To access promotional materials for the booklet, visit