A recent study has looked at the use of antibiotics with systemic drug treatments for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The study investigated patients taking immune checkpoint inhibitors (146 patients), interferon-α (510 patients), mTOR inhibitors (660 patients) and VEGF targeted therapies (2,974 patients). The latter three groups were on phase II/III clinical trials, while the immunotherapy group were in routine clinical practice.

The effect of antibiotic use (from 8 weeks before to 4 weeks after the start of treatment) on progression-free survival and overall survival was evaluated.

The study showed that patients who received antibiotics within 8 weeks before or 4 weeks after the start of treatment with systemic therapies, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, had a lower response rate and shorter progression-free survival compared with those patients who did not receive antibiotics. Antibiotic use was also associated with shorter overall survival in some groups of patients.

In conclusion, the use of antibiotics may make systemic therapies for RCC less effective, especially immunotherapies. This may be related to changes in the gut bacteria.

Read more in European Urology Oncology here