Immune Effects of Chemotherapy, Radiation, and Targeted Therapy and Opportunities for Combination With Immunotherapy

Semin Oncol. 2015 Aug;42(4):601-16. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 Jun 3.


There have been significant advances in cancer treatment over the past several years through the use of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, molecularly targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Despite these advances, treatments such as monotherapy or monomodality have significant limitations. There is increasing interest in using these strategies in combination; however, it is not completely clear how best to incorporate molecularly targeted and immune-targeted therapies into combination regimens. This is particularly pertinent when considering combinations with immunotherapy, as other types of therapy may have significant impact on host immunity, the tumor microenvironment, or both. Thus, the influence of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and molecularly targeted therapy on the host anti-tumor immune response and the host anti-host response (ie, autoimmune toxicity) must be taken into consideration when designing immunotherapy-based combination regimens. We present data related to many of these combination approaches in the context of investigations in patients with melanoma and discuss their potential relationship to management of patients with other tumor types. Importantly, we also highlight challenges of these approaches and emphasize the need for continued translational research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / drug effects