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Inhibitors of immune checkpoints-PD-1, PD-L1, CTLA-4-new opportunities for cancer patients and a new challenge for internists and general practitioners.

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Wojtukiewicz, Marek Z  ORCID logo
Rek, Magdalena M 
Karpowicz, Kamil 
Górska, Maria 
Polityńska, Barbara 


The treatment of cancer patients with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) (anti-CTLA-4, anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1, combined therapy anti-PD-1/PD-L1 with anti-CTLA-4) has without doubt been a significant breakthrough in the field of oncology in recent years and constitutes a major step forward as a novel type of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer. ICIs have contributed to a significant improvement in the outcome of treatment and prognosis of patients with different types of malignancy. With the expansion of the use of ICIs, it is expected that caregivers will face new challenges, namely, they will have to manage the adverse side effects associated with the use of these drugs. New treatment options pose new challenges not only for oncologists but also for specialists in other clinical fields, including general practitioners (GPs). They also endorse the need for taking a holistic approach to the patient, which is a principle widely recognized in oncology and especially relevant in the case of the expanding use of ICIs, which may give rise to a wide variety of organ complications resulting from treatment. Knowledge and awareness of the spectrum of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) will allow doctors to qualify patients for treatment more appropriately, prevent complications, correctly recognize, and ultimately treat them. Additionally, patients with more non-specific symptoms would be expected, in the first instance, to consult their general practitioners, as complications may appear even after the termination of treatment and do not always proceed in line with disease progression. Dealing with any iatrogenic complications, will not only be the remit of oncologists but because of the likelihood that specific organs may be affected, is likely to extend also to specialists in various fields of internal medicine. These specialists, e.g., endocrinologists, dermatologists, pulmonologists, and gastroenterologists, are likely to receive referrals for patients suffering from specific types of adverse events or will be asked to provide care in cases requiring hospitalization of patients with complications in their field of expertise. In view of these considerations, we believe that there is an urgent need for multidisciplinary teamwork in the treatment of cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy and suffering the consequent adverse reactions to treatment.



CTLA-4, Immune checkpoint inhibitor, Immune-related adverse events, Immunotherapy, PD-1, PD-L1, Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological, B7-H1 Antigen, CTLA-4 Antigen, General Practitioners, Humans, Immunotherapy, Neoplasms, Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor

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Cancer Metastasis Rev

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Uniwersytet Medyczny w Bialymstoku (SUB/1/DN/21/002/1123)