Our purpose has been to give to the reader an insight in the development of cancer vaccines. The paper is built up stepwise with a smooth start reviewing the historical aspects of cancer treatment, ranging from the ancient Egypt to gene therapy. Further we build the base by looking at immune physiology and cancer development in general. Then we try to combine these two subjects by reviewing the available knowledge about tumour associated antigens and different strategies used to eradicate tumour. Clinical trials of cancer vaccines are further presented. We focus on melanoma-, prostate- and lung cancer vaccines and endeavour to give the latest and most varied selection. As this field of research is still very new we could only find early clinical trials (phase I/II), but some trials have the potential to be extended to large scale trials because of encouraging results. In spite of this, no trial has shown any striking results and there is a lot of work left to do. There is a need to find more potent tumour antigens, more effective adjuvants, the right way to administer the vaccine and the best dose. Perhaps the most striking result so far is the lack of toxicity associated with this form of treatment.
Seeing the fast development and advance of knowledge in this field oftreatment and the numerous possibilities hidden in the immune defencesystem, we predict that tumour vaccination will be available for treating cancer in some decades.