Radiotherapy is a key treatment modality for the management of various types of cancer. Its potent capacity to kill tumor cells and to abrogate clonogenic survival has historically been considered to be an essential determinant of its therapeutic success. However, there is growing experimental evidence suggesting that innate as well as adaptive immune responses contribute to the radiotherapeutic outcome. This applies to both the intentional effects, including the induction of a specific anti-tumor immune response, as well as the unintentional side effects, such as inflammatory reactions, which might even develop to dose-limiting complications.
The aim of this article series is to introduce our readers to different immunological aspects of radiotherapy and to show which new avenues of research are currently opening up.
Prof Kirsten Lauber