Immuno‑Oncology Is a Different Type of Cancer Treatment Approach

Immuno‑Oncology is a unique approach that uses the body's immune system to help fight cancer. If your body is like a garden, you and your healthcare team will decide on how to remove the weeds (cancer cells) while doing the least damage to the good plants (healthy cells). This garden analogy is shown below to help explain this concept.

Healthy Body

Imagine your body as a garden, where the soil is your immune system. When you're healthy, the soil is rich and well tended, and the garden is green. Normally, the soil is able to prevent weeds from growing out of control.

Body with Cancer

Cancer cells are like weeds in your garden. Sometimes, the soil can allow weeds to grow and spread, and soon, the entire garden suffers as your plants compete for space and nutrients.


Surgery removes large patches of weeds and the soil around them, sometimes disturbing the good plants and leaving some weed roots behind.


Chemotherapy is like spraying a general weed killer on the whole garden. This approach may not kill all the weeds and may also harm some good plants.


Radiation is like increasing the power of the sun with a magnifying glass to target and dry the weeds out, but in the process, some of the good plants can also be damaged.

Targeted Therapy

With targeted therapy, weeds are directly sprayed with weed killer. Good plants may still be damaged.


Instead of targeting the weeds, Immuno-Oncology is like adding a weed-control fertilizer to the soil. This fertilizer enriches the soil to help control weeds, which in turn restores the health of your garden. But too much fertilizer in the soil might harm your garden.


Guides for Patients and Caregivers

Videos and downloads to help you ask the right questions and understand how
I-O may work
differently from other cancer treatments.

What's the difference between immunotherapy and Immuno-Oncology?

You may have heard of immunotherapy, which refers to treatments that use the immune system to combat diseases. Immunotherapy includes vaccines, allergy treatments, and more. Immuno-Oncology is a type of immunotherapy that has the specific purpose of treating cancer.