How does the body react to cancer cells?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Cancer is an unusual cell. It's not the normal thing, and so your immune system should fight it. If a proofreader gene doesn't spot the cancer cell and kill it at an early stage, the body should summon a system-wide immunologic response to the cell. However, to some cancers we don't produce this response, and those are the ones that kill us. Why don't we produce an immunologic response? It may be that the cancer secretes a protein that prevents the sites of immunologic action on the protein from being shown to our own immune system. It might be that the cancer protects itself by secreting protein.