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Expert Breaks Down Immunotherapy Options in Kidney Cancer


In recent years, immunotherapy’s usage has expanded for the treatment of patients with kidney cancer.

Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system to find and attack cancer cells.

In an interview with Cancer Horizons, Dr. Jeff Yorio, a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology, explained how immunotherapy is being used to treat kidney cancer — as both single agents and in combination with other drugs.

READ MORE: More Research Efforts Needed to Ensure Kidney Cancer Treatments ‘Get Smarter’ to Limit Side Effects, Expert Says


Immunotherapy, we've been using it in the in the stage 4, advanced setting. Initially, we were using it more as a second-line treatment, but then nowadays, we're using it really in the front line.

We can consider some different options, which are what we call an immunotherapy combinations. So looking at two drugs, you know, Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) are the two drugs that we use as immunotherapy combinations up front. Also, we use them in combination with some of these TKI therapies and (there are) several different options there: Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Inlyta (axitinib); Cabometyx (cabozantinib) and Opdivo; Keytruda and Lenvima (lenvatinib) would be another one. So you've got these different combinations that you can look at, using immunotherapy.

Now we even have started to use immunotherapy in the post-surgical stage in people with high-risk stage 2 or stage 3 disease. We now have data and now an (Food and Drug Administration) approval to start using Keytruda for about one year after those surgeries, and that showed that people have (fewer) recurrences with using that treatment after their initial surgery.

Immunotherapy, of course, is trying to home in on your immune system’s ability to fight cancer. And so, what we know, a lot of these cancers like kidney cancer have an inherent way that they've tapped into the immune system and figured out a way to hide from the immune system (or) put the brakes on the immune system.

What drugs like Keytruda, Opdivo or Yervoy do is they try to try to “unmask” the cancer so that that the immune system knows how to go after and (cancer cells and) attack. (The immune system) recognizes the cancer being there and stimulate the immune system to do that process.

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