Immunodeficiency, also known as immunocompromisation, is a state in which the immune system's ability to fight infectious diseases and cancer is compromised or entirely absent. Most cases are acquired ("secondary") due to extrinsic factors that affect the patient's immune system. Examples of these extrinsic factors include HIV infection and environmental factors, such as nutrition. Immunocompromisation may also be due to genetic diseases/flaws such as SCID.
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|Other names||Immunocompromisation, immune deficiency|
In clinical settings, immunosuppression by some drugs, such as steroids, can either be an adverse effect or the intended purpose of the treatment. Examples of such use is in organ transplant surgery as an anti-rejection measure and in patients with an overactive immune system, as in autoimmune diseases. Some people are born with intrinsic defects in their immune system, or primary immunodeficiency.
A person who has an immunodeficiency of any kind is said to be immunocompromised. An immunocompromised individual may particularly be vulnerable to opportunistic infections, in addition to normal infections that could affect anyone. It also decreases cancer immunosurveillance, in which the immune system scans the body's cells and kills neoplastic ones. They are also more susceptible to infectious diseases owing to reduced protection afforded by vaccines.