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Ann Transl Med. 2016 Jul;4(14):272. doi: 10.21037/atm.2016.07.10.

Toxicity management of immunotherapy for patients with metastatic melanoma.

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First Department of Medical Oncology, Metropolitan Hospital, Athens, Greece ;
First Department of Medicine, Laiko General Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.


Checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma offering improved responses and significant survival benefit. These agents are now approved for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, squamous and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and kidney cancer, while they are now being investigated in a range of other malignancies. In addition, another anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody (atezolizumab) was recently approved for urothelial cancer. Ipilimumab, an anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) antibody and the anti-PD-1 agents nivolumab and pembrolizumab have followed large clinical development programs, therefore, information regarding their safety and toxicity profile is readily available. Unique toxicities have been observed, which stem from and relate to the immune activation by these agents and are thus termed as immune-related adverse events (irAEs). Clinicians and patients should be aware of this different toxicity profile, so as to promptly recognize, identify and manage symptoms related to irAEs. Indeed, clinical experience has shown that these immune events, when they are early recognized and timely managed, are mostly reversible otherwise they can evoke severe or even life-threatening situations. Several recommendations and guidelines have been developed for the management of irAEs and algorithms have been published based primarily on our knowledge from the ipilimumab trials.


Immunotherapy; checkpoint inhibitors; immune-related adverse events (irAEs); metastatic melanoma; toxicity

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