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In this video interview, Dr Jeffrey Kirshner from the Haematology-Oncology Associates of Central New York Community Clinical Oncology Programme talks about a global review of data on quality of life in patients on immunotherapy that was presented at this year’s ESMO.
During the interview, Dr Kirshner mentions that quality of life is better with immunotherapy than chemotherapy, which was already known, but this analysis confirms this finding. It is information that doctors can give to patients who are contemplating treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. However, patients need to be cautioned that there are some side effects with immunotherapy which can occasionally be fatal, but this is no different to some other cancer treatments and cancer in general.
When you use combination checkpoint inhibitors, e.g., ipilimumab and nivolumab, there’s a very high incidence of gastric problems, mainly diarrhoea. Fortunately, the combination is only given 4 times, and then patients switch to nivolumab alone. If they can get through the first 4 treatments, it’s usually better tolerated. But those first 8 weeks are tough, and patients need to be monitored for gastric side effects and stop the drug if they get significant diarrhoea.