New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Study reveals cancer immunotherapy patients at most risk of life-threatening side effects

Results will help guide care for many patients with advanced cancer

Date:
April 12, 2021
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Immune checkpoint inhibitors boost a patient's immune response against cancer cells, but they can cause potentially life-threatening side effects in some individuals. New research may help clinicians determine which patients are most at risk.
Share:
FULL STORY

Many patients with cancer receive immune checkpoint inhibitors that strengthen their immune response against tumor cells. While the medications can be life-saving, they can also cause potentially life-threatening side effects in internal organs. This double-edged sword makes it challenging for clinicians to decide who should be considered candidates for treatment. A new analysis led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) indicates which patients are at elevated risk of side effects severe enough to require hospitalization. The findings are published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.

"Understanding the risk factors for predicting high-grade toxicities will help in appropriately selecting patients most likely to tolerate immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy," says co-senior author Yevgeniy R. Semenov, MD, an investigator in the Department of Dermatology at MGH. "It will also help to identify higher risk patients who should be carefully monitored if they initiate this therapy."

To this end, Semenov and his colleagues analyzed information from a national health insurance claims database, identifying 14,378 patients with cancer who received immune checkpoint inhibitors in the United States between 2011 and 2019. The team found that 3.5% of patients who received immune checkpoint inhibitors experienced side effects that required patients to be hospitalized and to receive immunosuppression treatments (to counteract the effects of the immune checkpoint inhibitors).

"We found that younger age, melanoma, and kidney cancer were each predictive of the development of severe immunotherapy toxicities," says Semenov. Patients also faced a higher risk if they received multiple immune checkpoint inhibitors, rather than just one type.

"This study provides the foundation for studying severe immunotherapy toxicities using a Big Data analytic framework, which will be necessary when understanding the impact of these life-saving medications across diverse populations," says Semenov. "Also, it is the first step in developing robust clinical risk prediction models to identify patients at highest risk for the development of life-threatening treatment complications."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mark Kalinich, William Murphy, Shannon Wongvibulsin, Vartan Pahalyants, Kun-Hsing Yu, Chenyue Lu, Feicheng Wang, Leyre Zubiri, Vivek Naranbhai, Alexander Gusev, Shawn G Kwatra, Kerry L Reynolds, Yevgeniy R Semenov. Prediction of severe immune-related adverse events requiring hospital admission in patients on immune checkpoint inhibitors: study of a population level insurance claims database from the USA. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 2021; 9 (3): e001935 DOI: 10.1136/jitc-2020-001935

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Study reveals cancer immunotherapy patients at most risk of life-threatening side effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412161907.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2021, April 12). Study reveals cancer immunotherapy patients at most risk of life-threatening side effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412161907.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Study reveals cancer immunotherapy patients at most risk of life-threatening side effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412161907.htm (accessed April 20, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES