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Cancer immunotherapy found safe in patients with rheumatologic diseases

In the largest single-center study of patients with rheumatologic diseases who were prescribed modern cancer immunotherapy with what are called immune checkpoint inhibitors, only a minority of patients experienced a flare of their rheumatologic disease or immune-related side effects.

The Arthritis and Rheumatology study included 16 patients with rheumatologic diseases--including rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, Sjogren's syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus--who were later diagnosed with cancer.

After initiating cancer immunotherapy, immune-related adverse effects occurred in 6 patients, and all were treated successfully.

The findings suggest that selected groups of patients with rheumatologic disease can safely receive potentially life-saving cancer treatments.

"Based on our observations, immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy should be considered in select patients with pre-existing rheumatologic disease," said senior author Dr. Uma Thanarajasingam, of the Mayo Clinic. "However, there is an immediate and pressing need for prospective, and ideally multi-center trials to study rheumatic patients who go on to need immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy - both to better understand their safety profile in this under-studied patient group, as well as elucidate risk factors and biomarkers for the development of immune-related adverse effects."

Source: Wiley Publishing

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European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

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ecancer Global Foundation