Building immunity to cancer with radiation therapy

Cancer Lett. 2015 Nov 28;368(2):198-208. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2015.01.009. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Over the last decade there has been a dramatic shift in the focus of cancer research toward understanding how the body's immune defenses can be harnessed to promote the effectiveness of cytotoxic anti-cancer therapies. The ability of ionizing radiation to elicit anti-cancer immune responses capable of controlling tumor growth has led to the emergence of promising combination-based radio-immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer. Herein we review the immunoadjuvant properties of localized radiation therapy and discuss how technological advances in radio-oncology and developments in the field of tumor-immunotherapy have started to revolutionize the therapeutic application of radiotherapy.

Keywords: Anti-tumor immunity; Cancer; Immunogenic cell death; Immunotherapy; Ionizing radiation; Radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Cell Death / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radiotherapy / methods