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South Asian J Cancer. 2019 Jan-Mar;8(1):65-68. doi: 10.4103/sajc.sajc_167_18.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors: Real-world experience from India in advanced solid cancers that have progressed on chemotherapy.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, India.



The immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) nivolumab and pembrolizumab have shown dramatic efficacy with low toxicity in international studies of advanced solid cancers. No published Indian experience with ICIs exist other than isolated case reports.


The aim of this study is to evaluate real-world data about the efficacy and toxicity of ICIs in advanced solid cancers among Indian patients who have progressed on one or more prior lines of chemotherapy.

Materials and Methods:

All patients with advanced solid cancers who received ICIs after the failure of chemotherapy at our center were retrospectively assessed. Information about efficacy and toxicity was collected and analyzed.


The present study included 24 patients who had received ICIs for indications including non-small cell lung, bladder, head and neck, gastrointestinal, and unknown primary cancer. Patients had received a median of two prior lines of chemotherapy (range 1-5). Grade III or higher toxicity was seen in 8% of patients. Clinical benefit at 3 months was realized in 33% of evaluable patients. Twenty-six percentages of evaluable patients achieved a response, including one patient who achieved a complete response that is ongoing at 18 months. Median progression-free survival was 3 months, and median overall survival was 8 months at a median follow-up of 10 months. Among patients who achieved clinical benefit, the majority (84%) have an ongoing response at the time of data cutoff.


Efficacy and toxicity of ICIs in the Indian population are similar to the experience seen in large international cohorts, and Indian oncologists may feel reassured using these agents in similar settings.


Bladder cancer; head-and-neck cancer; immunotherapy; lung cancer; metastatic cancer; nivolumab; oral cancer; pembrolizumab

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