Is cancer dangerous to the immune system?

Ephraim J. Fuchs, Polly Matzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The hypothesis of immunologic surveillance of neoplasia is predicated on the theory that the immune system is capable of discriminating self from foreign antigens, and that tumor-specific antigens are regarded by the immune system as nonself. We propose here an alternate view, that the immune system has evolved to detect danger by employing 'professional' antigen-presenting cells as sentinels of tissue distress. In this model, cancers do not appear dangerous to the immune system, so that the default response of T cells to tumors is to be turned off. We discuss the implications for immunotherapy of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1996


  • Antigen-presenting cells
  • Immune surveillance
  • Immunologic tolerance
  • T lymphocytes
  • Tumor immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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