Demystifying Targeted Cancer Treatments

Discover the science of targeted cancer treatments and immunotherapies on this course designed for clinical cancer research nurses

  • Duration 5 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $64 Find out more

Deepen your understanding and improve communication with patients and colleagues

New from February 2020: The world of cancer treatment is changing rapidly, therefore we’ve added new content on immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T cells, PARP inhibitors and CDK inhibitors.

Although the course is open to all, it has been designed primarily for clinical research nurses working with patients on clinical cancer trials, along with clinical cancer research staff and specialist cancer nurses. See more information below.

Thanks to ground-breaking research over the past 20 years, new, more targeted treatments and immunotherapies have been developed that are changing the way we treat cancer, and providing new hope for patients. Join us and discover the science behind these treatments and learn through quizzes, interviews, articles and patient case studies. Each week you’ll have the opportunity to engage in discussion with other learners on key issues. You’ll learn from experts in the field and gain a deeper understanding of how targeted cancer treatments and immunotherapies work to support your patients.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • What are targeted treatments and how are they used today
  • Biological concepts behind targeted cancer treatments and immunotherapies
  • Principles of cell communication and cancer
  • Treatments for solid tumours that block cell communication pathways (monoclonal antibodies and kinase inhibitors)
  • Communicating to patients about targeted cancer treatments
  • Side effects of treatments and how they impact patients’ quality of life
  • The unique properties of blood cancers and the targeted therapies used to treat them
  • The relationship between cancer and the immune system
  • Various immunotherapy strategies including checkpoint inhibitors, CAR-modified T cells and cancer treatment vaccines
  • How immunotherapy is reported in the news and managing patient expectations of treatment
  • The challenges of drug resistance and the implementation of biomarker tests
  • The future of targeted cancer treatments

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Understand the science behind targeted cancer treatments and how they work
  • Improve confidence in communicating to patients and colleagues about targeted cancer treatments, immunotherapy and biomarkers
  • Appreciate why so called 'targeted treatments' cause side effects and understand how they impact patients’ quality of life
  • Recognise some of the current challenges and future potential of targeted cancer treatments

Who is the course for?

This course has been designed primarily for clinical cancer research nurses, along with other members of the clinical cancer research team. It can go towards your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and/or revalidation with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The course is also relevant for and may be of interest to specialist cancer nurses and other health professionals including pharmacists and medical/science graduates studying this topic.

A basic understanding of how cells work is needed to get the most out of this course. Some experience working in cancer is also recommended.

Who will you learn with?

Anne Croudass

Anne Croudass

I qualified as a nurse in 1994, and after several years working on medical wards, I moved into research. For the last 10 years I have been the lead research nurse at CRUK.

Elaine Vickers

Elaine Vickers

Author of "A beginner's guide to targeted cancer treatments". Elaine teaches cancer biology and the science of new cancer treatments to non-scientists. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology.

Who developed the course?

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) are the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 7 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$249.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.