The process by which the immune system kills cancer cells is described by the cancer-immunity cycle

The cancer immunity cycle describes a natural process of how one’s own immune system protects the body against cancer. When performing optimally, the cycle is self-sustaining. With subsequent revolutions of the cycle, the breadth and depth of the immune response can be increased.1

the cancer immunity cycle
the cancer immunity cycle

STEPS 1-3: Initiating and propagating anticancer immunity1

  • Oncogenesis leads to the expression of mutated antigens that can be captured by dendritic cells
  • Dendritic cells can present antigens to T cells, priming and activating cytotoxic T cells to attack the cancer cells

STEPS 4-5: Accessing the tumour1

  • Activated T cells travel to the tumour and infiltrate the tumour microenvironment

STEPS 6-7: Cancer-cell recognition and initiation of cytotoxicity1

  • Activated T cells can recognize and kill target cancer cells
  • Dying cancer cells release additional cancer antigens, propagating the cancer immunity cycle