Steroids Lower Survival Benefits Associated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Lung Cancer


“The use of steroids at baseline was associated with inferior survival outcomes in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who were starting either PD-1 or PD-L1 blockade therapy, according to retrospective data presented at ASCO Annual Meeting.

” ‘Treatment with PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors is now standard therapy for nearly all patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer,’ Kathryn C. Arbour, MD, a fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said during her presentation. ‘The potential impact of steroids in patients with PD-1 or PD-L1 blockade has been an open question. Steroids are frequently used as a supportive medication in cancer care and can provide rapid relief of numerous cancer-related symptoms, including dyspnea, anorexia, pain, fatigue and symptoms associated with brain metastases. However … [physicians] routinely recognize that there can be substantial toxicities associated with long-term steroid use.’ ”

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Immune-Based Therapy May Be Tool Against Melanoma in the Brain


“A type of therapy that harnesses the immune system is giving new hope to people battling a once hopeless cancer — melanoma that’s spread to the brain.

“New research involving more than 2,700 U.S. patients is confirming what specialists in the field have long known — that “checkpoint blockade” treatment can beat back these devastating tumors.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.

Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 1 of 2)

New targeted and immunotherapy drugs have changed the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma from a death sentence into a disease that can potentially be managed and even cured. Nevertheless, these new drugs do not work in all patients, or they may stop working after a transient response. This post (part one of two) will describe ongoing efforts to find drug combinations with higher efficacy than single drugs and decipher the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. Continue reading…

To PD-L1 or Not to PD-L1: That Is the Question

These days, it seems that I write mostly about immune checkpoint blockade drugs, or some other new immunotherapy treatment for cancer. This post is no different—it covers PD-L1, a protein that is at the center of clinical decisions for selecting patients who are likely to benefit from treatment with an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 drug. Continue reading…

What Determines Whether a Melanoma Patient Will Respond to Checkpoint Blockade Drugs?

Of all cancer types, melanoma is the most investigated in terms of its potential to be treated through immune system-based approaches. More immunotherapy drugs are approved for melanoma than for any other type of cancer, and more are in development. Recent additions to the immunotherapy arsenal are the ‘anti-PD-1’ immune checkpoint blockade drugs pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). Continue reading…

‘Immune Checkpoint’ Drugs Show New Promise for Treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

It has become routine practice to prescribe targeted drugs to patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), whose tumors harbor molecular alterations in EGFR, ALK, and ROS. However, the majority of patients with NSCLC have no targetable mutations and lack good treatment options. Enter immunotherapy drugs, specifically ‘immune checkpoint blockade antibodies,’ to which many refer simply as ‘anti-PD-1 drugs,’ or simply ‘PD-1 drugs.’ In this post, I provide some updates on the efficacy of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 drugs in lung cancer. Continue reading…

Melanoma: A 2013 ‘Progress Report’

The past year saw some remarkable advances in melanoma clinical research and treatment. This feature explores the most notable melanoma news of 2013: Continue reading…

What Lies Within: Novel Strategies in Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

In this article, we examine the current state of the art in lung cancer immunotherapy, including vaccines that specifically target lung tumor antigens and immune checkpoint antibodies such as antiprogrammed death 1 (anti-PD-1). Both approaches harness innate immunity against tumors by suppressing tumor-induced immune paresis.