Therapeutic cancer vaccines treat disease by stimulating the body's immune system. They are a form of active immunotherapy with the goal of producing an immune response that involves the cellular and humoral components of the immune system. These two components appear to be complementary and work together to induce tumor regression and long-lasting immunity to the disease being treated. This article reviews the history of cancer vaccine development, autologous and allogeneic vaccines, vaccine targets, carrier proteins, adjuvants, and clinical trial data of studies evaluating cancer vaccines. Knowledge of this emerging cancer treatment option will enable oncology nurses to be informed about cancer vaccines and accurately provide information about them to patients.