Awareness and understanding of cancer immunotherapy in Europe

Håkan Mellstedt, Gustav Gaudernack, Winald R. Gerritsen, Christoph Huber, Ignacio Melero, Giorgio Parmiani, Uzy Scholl, Nicholas Thatcher, John Wagstaff, Christoph Zielinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The use of immunotherapy in the management of cancer is growing, and a range of new immunotherapeutic strategies is becoming available. It is important that people involved in the care of cancer understand how cancer immunotherapies differ from conventional chemotherapy and apply this knowledge to their clinical practice. Therefore, from August-September 2011 we undertook a survey of awareness, attitudes, and perceptions of cancer immunotherapy among 426 healthcare professionals (HCPs) in Europe with the aim of identifying and prioritizing educational needs. Nearly all (98%) HCPs were aware of cancer immunotherapy. While 68% of HCPs indicated a high level of interest in cancer immunotherapies, only 24% of the HCPs had direct experience with them. Overall perceptions of cancer immunotherapy among HCPs were largely positive (60%) and rarely negative (3%). The key advantages of cancer immunotherapy were perceived to be good safety and tolerability (75%), a targeted mechanism of action (61%) and good efficacy (48%). The leading barriers to use of immunotherapies were costs of treatment (58%), past clinical trial failures (45%), and access/formulary restrictions (44%). The results indicate that, among the respondents, awareness of cancer immunotherapy was high but that knowledge levels varied and direct experience with their use was limited. There appears to be a need for educational activities on cancer immunotherapy, as well as generation and communication of clinical data on long-term efficacy and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1828-1835
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Awareness
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Education
  • Survey
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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