Home Treatments Immunotherapy

What is immunotherapy? 

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts and uses the body's own immune system to identify and attack cancer cells in the body. Several different types of immunotherapy are currently used in the treatment of cancer to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells or prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy is also be referred to as a "targeted" treatment.

Immunotherapy can be delivered using different methods, depending on your personalised treatment plan. This can typically include:

  • Intravenously - a small needle inserted directly into a vein
  • Orally - prescribed as a course of tablets or pills to swallow

At the Rutherford Cancer Centres we offer oral therapy prescribed as a course of tablets or pills to swallow, and intravenous therapy which is given directly into a vein, both are available within our spacious and comfortable treatment therapy suites.

Depending on the type of cancer and your personalised treatment plan, the length of immunotherapy treatment may vary. For example, when delivered intravenously, patients may spend several hours, or a full day, receiving a single treatment of immunotherapy. The length of the full immunotherapy treatment will vary depending on your individual situation.  Our consultants can provide you with more information on the types of immunotherapy we offer, which may be best for you, and how long treatment could take. 

Find out more about the cancers we treat

Get started with our treatment finder

Our team is here to support you on your cancer journey, with treatments and wellbeing services.

Everyone is different, so treatment options for certain cancers will vary from person to person. An oncologist will discuss which treatment options will be best for you.

This treatment finder is designed to help you find out more about certain types of cancers and how they might be treated at the Rutherford. To get started, simply click a gender option below, and an area of the body for more information.

Choose the applicable option below to begin

Cancers we treat with proton beam therapy

Proton beam therapy can be used as a sole method for treating certain cancers or used in combination with other cancer services, such as chemotherapy, or to ensure that any remaining cancerous cells are destroyed following tumour removal surgery.

This type of treatment can be beneficial for cancers in certain areas of the body. You can find out more about the cancers we treat with proton beam therapy by using our treatment finder.

These are some of the body areas we can treat with proton beam therapy:
  • Bowel
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Head & Neck
  • Lung
  • Lymphoma
  • Oesophagus
  • Prostate
  • Sarcoma
  • Skull base
  • Spine
  • Vaginal


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How does immunotherapy work?

Our natural defences do not target cancer cells, as they can hide from the immune system. They do this by either escaping defensive cells or by producing signals to cause the immune system to ignore the cells. Aggressive cancer cells can also overwhelm the immune system, preventing it from stopping the growth of these cells, even if the immune system identifies them.


Immunotherapy works by encouraging the immune system to attack the cancer cells, and this can be achieved by making these cells recognisable to the immune system or by blocking the pathways that cancer cells use to hide from our natural antibodies.


Our immune system is our natural defence and has evolved to defend the body against diseases and infection without causing further damage to healthy cells. By using immunotherapy as a treatment, we can provide the immune system with the necessary defences to work more efficiently against cancer cells.


Immunotherapy may be useful in treating many kinds of cancers, but may not be effective for everyone. Our consultants and clinical teams will be available to discuss potential benefits of immunotherapy with you and if it may be suited to your needs.


Types of immunotherapy we offer:

At the Rutherford Cancer Centres, we offer different types of immunotherapy, some of these include:

  • Checkpoint inhibitors
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Immune system modulators

You can find out more about these types of immunotherapy treatments on the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

The benefits of immunotherapy

Although immunotherapy can cause side effects, it can be beneficial to patients in specific circumstances. Everyone is different, and the benefits you see from having immunotherapy will differ to others, here are some common benefits:

  • It helps your own immune system attack cancer cells
  • It may be effective where other treatments are not an option
  • It boosts your immune system, enabling it to get the best out of other treatments
  • It may help keep your immune system active during and following chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment

What is an infusion therapy?

Infusion therapy is a term that can be used to describe chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments, where drugs are delivered to your body intravenously or subcutaneously - find out more about infusion therapy by watching our video.

Watch the video

A patient journey at the Rutherford Cancer Centres

Immunotherapy, a systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT).

Watch the video

Further information about immunotherapy

If you would like to know more about immunotherapy, including how it works, its benefits and possible side effects; please download our patient guide or visit our immunotherapy FAQs.

The care I received was outstanding from my first consultation to the end of the six chemotherapy treatments. The privacy situation was marvellous, to be able to be treated in such an environment was a privilege. Thank you to all the staff who were all so courteous and caring throughout.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre North East

July 20, 2020

Nurses were amazing, couldn’t have asked for more. Always there to help and made me feel at ease and most of all relaxed. Thank you so much. Place was clean, fresh, and relaxing to have treatment.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre North East

January 1, 2021

Thank you for looking after me so well. You are all brilliant.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley

February 1, 2019

The staff was excellent, caring and I would recommend to any person in my position.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

June 1, 2020

Chemo team very attentive & supportive throughout. Lok forward on each visit to talking to them.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

June 1, 2020

The whole treatment was completed by very caring and polite and caring staff who did everything to ensure my comfort and care. The premises were immaculate in cleanliness.

Patient Satisfaction Survey - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

August 2, 2020

We're here for you

It’s important that you feel supported, not only during your treatment but also afterwards, to give your body the best possible chance to heal.

After treatments your recovery will be supported by regular follow-up checks with your consultant. These will vary depending on the area of your body that's been treated, and the amount of treatment you've received. Follow-up appointments are used to help keep track of your recovery, so if you have any concerns you will have the opportunity to discuss them with your consultant.

The diagnosis of cancer combined with possible side effects can affect how you feel. Your treatment team is here to support you, and we encourage you to talk to us. Sometimes just talking about your emotions can be of great help and if necessary, we can arrange for further advice and support.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers a wide range of information and support, as well as help with your practical, emotional, and financial needs. All telephone helplines are free and confidential, and interpreting services are also available.

If you have cancer, it's understandable you might be worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance from Macmillan.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm)

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Get in Touch

If you'd like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

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