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J Oncol Pract. 2019 Sep;15(9):e825-e834. doi: 10.1200/JOP.18.00703. Epub 2019 Aug 6.

Immune-Related Adverse Events Requiring Hospitalization: Spectrum of Toxicity, Treatment, and Outcomes.

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Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Baltimore, MD.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.



Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) cause immune-related adverse events (irAEs). The proportion of patients who are hospitalized for irAEs and their spectrum, management, and outcomes are not well described.


We report the proportion of hospitalized patients in an academic center who were treated with ICIs from May to December 2017. Patient characteristics, toxicities, management, and outcomes for confirmed irAE admissions are reported. Associations between patient features and irAE hospitalizations are examined.


Twenty-three percent (n = 100) of 443 patients who were admitted to an academic oncology center over 6 months had ever received ICIs. Of these patients, 41% were admitted for suspected irAEs and 23% were confirmed irAEs. IrAEs accounted for 5% of all oncology hospitalizations (n = 23). Ninety-one percent of patients with confirmed irAEs prompted a medicine subspecialist consultation, most commonly gastroenterology (22%). Fifteen patients (65%) had their irAEs improve/resolve, seven (30%) had worsening irAEs, and three (13%) died of their irAEs. The majority of patients (n = 20; 87%) discontinued ICIs after discharge. Among ICI-treated patients who required admission, an increased likelihood of irAE-related hospitalization was associated with patient age older than 65 years (odds ratio, 5.4; 95% CI, 1.6 to 17.8) and receipt of combination immunotherapy (OR, 6.8; 95% CI, 2.0 to 23.2).


A notable proportion of ICI-treated patients are hospitalized for irAEs, and these patients have a high demand for multidisciplinary management. Older age and combination ICI treatment were associated with an increased risk of irAE-related hospitalization. Whereas these data are from an academic center and include patients in clinical trials, with expanding use of ICIs, these data have important implications for inpatient service planning and risk stratification.


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