The impact of cancer is astounding.1 Chances are you know someone, likely more than one person, who has been afflicted with the disease.2

While global cancer cases continue to rise,3 the fight is personal – not only for patients and their loved ones but also for those focused on treating cancer and developing new treatments.1,4 MSD is at the forefront of research that we hope will change the way cancer is treated.5

We believe in the work we do and are working with the entire community to help people with cancer and their caregivers to better navigate their journeys. Ultimately, our progress in changing the outcomes of cancer would not be possible without the participation of patients in clinical trials, the support and involvement of the physicians who believe in the importance of advancing the care for patients through innovative clinical trials, and the patient advocacy community who helps support people with cancer through their journeys.5


In the 1950s, researchers proposed that the immune system patrols the body to detect and destroy tumour cells.6 Scientists and researchers had previously focused on cancer cells and treating cancer as a genetic disease.7

Today the focus is shifting to the microenvironment in which cancer grows, including the immune system – an approach called immuno-oncology. Immuno-Oncology has the potential to transform how physicians treat cancer and how patients benefit.8

MSD is at the forefront of research that we hope will change the way cancer is treated.5 Our latest developments in immunotherapy – which is not chemotherapy or radiation therapy – as these new treatments works with your immune system to help fight certain cancers. Immunotherapy is providing new, innovative treatment options for certain types of cancers.9,10

Breakthroughs in immuno-oncology are offering cancer patients new hope regarding the management of their condition and to have a better quality of life, while providing health providers the opportunity to deliver potentially unprecedented outcomes for people living with cancer.8,11

There is great potential for immuno-oncology therapies to increase long-term survival and improve quality of life. 8

Immuno Oncology Overview



1. NIH National Cancer Institute. Cancer Statistics. Updated April 27, 2018. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics [Accessed: 7 August 2019].

2. Merck Sharp and Dohme. The Impact of Cancer. Updated May 2018. Available from: https://www.merck.com/about/featured-stories/impact-cancer.html [Accessed: 7 August 2019].

3. World Health Organization. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Press Release No 263 (12 September 2018). Available from: https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/pr263_E.pdf [Accessed: 7 August 2019]

4. Wozniak K, Izycki D. Cancer: a family at risk. Prz Menopauzalny 2014; 13(4):253–261.

5. Merck Sharp and Dohme. Our Work in Immuno-Oncology. 2019. Available from: http://www.msd.com/about/our-work/oncology.html [Accessed: 7 August 2019].

6. Ichim C. Revisiting immunosurveillance and immunostimulation: Implications for cancer immunotherapy. J Translational Med 2005; 3:8 doi:10.1186/1479-5876-3-8 Available from: https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1479-5876-3-8 [Accessed: 7 August 2019]

7. Kim K-W, Lee S-J, Kim W-Y, Seo J, Lee H-Y. How Can We Treat Cancer Disease Not Cancer Cells? Cancer Res Treat 2017; 49(1):1–9.

8. Kaufman H, Atkins M, Subedi P, Wu J, Chambers J, Mattingly T, et al. The promise of Immuno-oncology: implications for defining the value of cancer treatment. J ImmunoTher Cancer 2019; 7:129 doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0594-0 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6525438/pdf/40425_2019_Article_594.pdf [Accessed: 7 August 2019]

9. Golan T, Milella M, Ackerstein A, Berger R. The changing face of clinical trials in the personalized medicine and immune-oncology era: report from the international congress on clinical trials in Oncology & Hemato-Oncology (ICTO 2017). J Exper Clin Cancer Res 2017; 36:192 DOI 10.1186/s13046-017-0668-0. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745625/pdf/13046_2017_Article_668.pdf [Accessed: 7 August 2019]

10. Marshall H, Djamgoz M. Immuno-Oncology: Emerging Targets and Combination Therapies. Frontiers in Oncology 2018; 8:315 doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00315. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115503/pdf/fonc-08-00315.pdf [Accessed: 7 August 2019]

11. Wang Y, Camateros P, Smith D, Dawe D, Ellis P. Immunotherapy with check-point inhibitors (CPI) in adult malignancies: a protocol for the systematic review of the quality of economic analyses. Systematic Reviews 2019; 8:139 doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-1047-z Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560862/pdf/13643_2019_Article_1047.pdf [Accessed: 7 August 2019]