Publication date: Mar 07, 2018
Over the last two decades, molecular-targeted agents have become mainstream treatment for many types of malignancies and have improved the overall survival of patients. However, most patients eventually develop resistance to these targeted therapies. Recently, immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment paradigm for many types of malignancies. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved for treatment of melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder cancer and gastric cancer. However, oncologists have been faced with immune-related adverse events caused by immune checkpoint inhibitors; these are generally mild but can be fatal in some cases. Because immune checkpoint inhibitors have distinct toxicity profiles from those of chemotherapy or targeted therapy, many oncologists are not familiar with the principles for optimal management of immune-related adverse events, which require early recognition and appropriate treatment without delay. To achieve this, oncologists must educate patients and health-care workers, develop checklists of appropriate tests for immune-related adverse events and collaborate closely with organ specialists. Clinical questions that remain include whether immune checkpoint inhibitors should be administered to patients with autoimmune disease and whether patients for whom immune-related adverse events lead to delays in immunotherapy should be retreated. In addition, the predicted use of combination immunotherapies in the near future means that oncologists will face a higher incidence and severity of immune-related adverse events. This review provides an overview of the optimal management of immune-related adverse events attributed to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
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