Combining radiation and immunotherapy: a new systemic therapy for solid tumors?

Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 Sep;2(9):831-8. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0069.


With the recent success of checkpoint inhibitors and other immunomodulating agents, there has been renewed interest in the combination of such agents with radiation. The biologic premise behind such a strategy is that the tumor-antigen release achieved by localized radiation will promote specific tumor targeting by the adaptive immune system, which can be augmented further by systemic immune-stimulating agents. In this manner, clinicians hope to induce a phenomenon known as the abscopal effect, whereby localized radiation results in immune-mediated tumor regression in disease sites well outside of the radiation field. Herein, we present a comprehensive overview of the early clinical and preclinical evidence behind this approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm