State of Cancer Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy has been under evaluation for more than a century, but only recently has it entered a renaissance phase with approval of multiple agents for the treatment of cancer.


Adapted from Lesterhuls WJ, et al2 and Kirkwood JM, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26(20):3445-3455.
BCG=Bacillus Calmette-Guérin; CA=cancer

More than a dozen different immunotherapy agents have been approved,* with the majority over the last decade. Currently approved immunotherapy agents target more than 10 different cancer types.

Clinical research in immunotherapy is rapidly increasing:

From 2009 to 2012, abstracts at major conferences have doubled9

There are approximately 800 ongoing clinical trials in various phases for cancers such as breast, colon, head and neck, and kidney10




Monoclonal antibodies

1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009

Checkpoint inhibitor



1986, 1992, 1995, 1998

Therapeutic Immunomodulation


*Not inclusive of all immunotherapy classes.

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  1. Kirkwood JM, Ferrone S, et al. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62(5):309-335.
  2. Lesterhuis WJ, Punt CJ, et al. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2011;10(8):591-600.
  3. Krummel MF, Allison JP. J Exp Med. 1995;182(2):459-465.
  4. Lotze M. In: Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. 2011.
  5. Leget GA, Czuczman MS. Curr Opin Oncol. 1998;10(6):548-551.
  6. Mellman I, Dranoff G, et al. Nature. 2011;480(7378):480-489.
  7. Sondak VK, Hauschild A, et al. In: Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. 2011.
  8. Robinson MK, Weiner LM, et al. In: Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. 2011.
  9. Accessed January 4, 2013.
  10. Accessed January 4, 2013.