Breast cancer and the immune system

Leanna J. Standish, Erin S. Sweet, Jeffrey Novack, Cynthia A. Wenner, Carly Bridge, Ana Nelson, Mark Martzen, Carolyn Torkelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


This article reviews the evidence that the functioning of both the innate and the adaptive immune system plays a role in preventing relapse in women with breast cancer. Lymphocytes, including T cells, T regulatory cells, and natural killer cells, and their cytokine release patterns are implicated in both primary prevention and recurrence of breast cancer. Cancer prognosis may be related to immune system functional status. The hypothesis that the immune system has a causal role in breast cancer etiology is supported by epidemiologic, preclinical, and clinical research. Empirical support for the concept that immune status and immunomodulatory therapy have important roles in comprehensive breast cancer treatment is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Society for Integrative Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Immune system


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