Purpose: For decades urologists have successfully used immunotherapy in the battle against cancer. Interleukin-2 in renal cell carcinoma and bacillus Calmette-Guerin in bladder cancer are standard primary and/or adjunctive therapies for these diseases. Recent advances in our understanding of mechanisms governing immune system activation have fostered a myriad of novel immunotherapeutic approaches that show great promise in vivo but have had limited success in human trials to date. This review highlights current immunotherapy strategies that may prove to be successful treatments for urological cancers.
Materials and methods: We performed a MEDLINE literature search for articles relating to immunotherapy in bladder, prostate and renal cell carcinoma in animals and humans. We included the most promising developments in this review.
Results: In addition to combining existing therapies to improve their efficacy, novel approaches that attempt to exploit the immune system ability to identify, target and eradicate malignancies are now being developed. These therapies include the use of antitumoral monoclonal and bi-specific antibodies, manipulation of T-lymphocyte costimulatory molecules and the administration of newly discovered cytokines as well as the development of antitumor vaccines.
Conclusions: To date the full potential of immunotherapy for the treatment of urological malignancies has not been recognized. As our knowledge of the immune system expands, so too may our ability to manipulate it to affect tumor regression. This review describes the most recent and most promising developments in immunotherapy for urological malignancies.