Why cancer immunotherapy?

“There is a smarter way to treat children’s cancer.”

For decades, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery have been the mainstays for treating cancer. These treatments kill cancer cells, but they have a lot of unwanted side effects. Healthy cells and tissues, especially in young growing children, can be permanently affected. No matter what the treatment, relapse is always possible, so we need to explore new treatments to minimise this risk.

Immunotherapy is globally recognised as an important new approach to cancer treatment. Cancer is by definition a corrupt citizen, continually making ‘deals’ with healthy cells to stop the immune system recognising there is a problem and allowing its own unchecked growth. Recent discoveries on the immune system demonstrate just how underhanded cancer truly is – convincing the body through a series of secret handshakes it tells the immune cells “There’s nothing to see here…”.

There are several different immunotherapy treatments, including vaccine therapy, antibody therapy, cellular therapy, and a multitude of other immune modifying treatments. These types of immunotherapy can halt each of these cancer tricks, take the blindfold off the cells, and allow the body to do what it does naturally by seeking and destroying unhealthy cells.

Research will help us understand the side effects of new treatments, to ensure we are giving children with cancer the best possible chance at survival and survivorship through exploring the possibility of reducing the burden of their cancer treatment.

With your help, something better, safer, smarter, can be explored now.

Charlotte’s story

Charlotte was four months shy of her fourteenth birthday when she passed away from Ewing Sarcoma. She had planned on going to uni, helping others, travelling, and having a “cute husband” (in the words of Isabel, her best friend).

Charlotte had bravely endured more than five years of cancer treatment, including eight invasive surgeries, seven conventional cancer treatments, two traditional radiation treatments, and two experimental radiation treatments. But she died in her parent’s arms before she could undergo targeted immunotherapy, because it wasn’t ready yet. It wasn’t ready when she needed it most.

Charlotte didn’t have the chance to benefit from the progressive treatment that has saved so many adult lives, and it’s because of this that the Ian Frazer Centre is so important. The Centre aims to ensure that all children facing a cancer diagnosis have the opportunity for a more effective cancer treatment, and that they will recover and live long, healthy, and happy lives. That will be Charlotte’s legacy.

“Our wish is that all children with cancer have the opportunity for a less aggressive and more effective treatment.”

— Michelle and Michael, Charlotte’s Parents

Find out more

Children’s Hospital Foundation

1300 742 554  •  •