In Cancer Treatment, Immunotherapy is a Viable Option Despite Toxicities
Because they have been found to be effective in the treatment of many types of cancer, including melanoma, immunotherapy drugs like anti-PD-1 agents and anti-CTLA4 therapies should not be discounted because of their toxicities.
BY Dr. Mario Sznol
PUBLISHED January 17, 2020
Because they have been found to be effective in the treatment of many types of cancer, including melanoma, immunotherapy drugs like anti-PD-1 agents and anti-CTLA4 therapies should not be discounted because of their toxicities, according to Dr. Mario Sznol, of Yale Cancer Center.
In an interview with CURE®’s sister publication, OncLive®, Sznol explained why it’s important that immunotherapeutic agents be offered to patients who are eligible to receive them, given their efficacy and despite their side effects.
At least in melanoma, I think that it’s really important that people receive, if they’re eligible, anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA4 (treatment) in the front-line setting. It’s still controversial what the best therapy is for patients with BRAF mutations and there are trials ongoing, but I think those patients probably ought to receive immune checkpoint inhibitors in the front-line setting.
I think that they should be aware of some of the newer agents that are being studied in phase 2 and phase 3 trials. I just know a little bit about them and why we’re studying them, to be prepared when and if those agents come onto the market.
And with regards to toxicity, I think we’re going to make the point that it’s important to detect these toxicities early, and to manage them appropriately with either steroids, or if necessary, secondary immunosuppressives in some cases.
I think people shouldn’t be afraid of the toxicities of these agents. Even if they are, they’re going to have to learn how to manage them because these are very effective agents in almost every cancer. It’s a part of the armamentarium of oncologists, and my guess is that immune checkpoint inhibitors and immunotherapies will be the most common agent that they prescribe in their practice, in the long run.