Is cancer dangerous to the immune system?

Ephraim J. Fuchs, Polly Matzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


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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