Demystifying Targeted Cancer Treatments Course - Cancer Research UK


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


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

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.

You may notice little or no facilitation from the course’s lead educators and mentors at this time. However, we’d encourage you to follow and join in discussion with other learners, share your experience and knowledge, and hear different perspectives to enhance your learning experience. We hope that you will enjoy interacting with and learning from each other in this way. Don’t forget to comment, reply to other learners and ‘like’ comments.


Week 1 - An introduction to targeted cancer treatments 

  • Welcome to the course
  • What are the targeted cancer treatments?
  • How are targeted cancer treatments used today?
  • Biological concepts behind targeted cancer treatments
  • Summary

Week 2 - Targeted cancer treatments for solid tumours

  • Welcome to week two
  • Cell communication and cancer
  • Drugs that block cell communication pathways
  • Explaining cell communication blockers to patients
  • Blocking angiogenesis
  • Introducing CDK and PARP inhibitors
  • Summary

Week 3 - Targeted treatments for blood cancers

  • Welcome to week three
  • Introduction to blood cancers
  • Topic 1: Targeted treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • Topic 2: Targeting the Bcr-Abl kinase in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
  • Topic 3: Targeted treatments for acute leukaemias, Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma
  • Summary

Week 4 - Immunotherapies

  • Welcome to week four
  • Using the immune system to treat cancer
  • Checkpoint inhibitors
  • Other immunotherapy strategies
  • Immunotherapy in the news: deciphering hope and hype
  • What does the future of immunotherapy look like?
  • Summary

Week 5 - Current challenges and future promise

  • Welcome to week five
  • Current challenge: drug resistance
  • Current challenge: putting biomarkers into practice
  • The future of targeted cancer treatments - vaccines and viruses?
  • Summary

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. 

  • 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

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

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) is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

Join this course



$259.99 for one 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

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
Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

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Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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