In a nutshell
This study wanted to find out what put patients at risk of having immune-related side effects when they were treated with pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The study found that patients with a higher body mass index (BMI; a measurement of weight in relation to height) and more cycles of treatment were more likely to determine immune-related side effects.
Pembrolizumab is a common cancer medication. It has been approved for the treatment of many cancers, including melanoma. It works by targeting the patients' immune system. As with many cancer treatments, it is known to have some side effects. These side effects often relate to the immune system. It is not known what risk factors there are that make it more likely for a patient to have side effects when taking pembrolizumab.
Methods & findings
This study had 391 patients. All of the patients had been treated with at least one dose of pembrolizumab. Side effects to treatment were evaluated.
Of all the patients, 27.1% experienced some sort of side effect. 4.1% of patients experienced a severe side effect. The most common side effect was redness and rashes on the skin. The second most common was inflammation of the lungs. There were four deaths to do with side effects, all to do with lung inflammation.
A higher BMI was associated with an increased likelihood of side effects. As the BMI increased by 1 kg/m2, the risk of immune-related side effects increased by 9%. The risk of side effects in patients with melanoma was 2.2 times higher than in patients with lung cancer.
The number of cycles and cumulative dose of pembrolizumab were both risk factors for side effects. When pembrolizumab was administered 2 times, the risk of developing immune-related side effects was 2.44 times higher than when it was administered only one time.
The bottom line
The study concluded that more cycles and higher doses of pembrolizumab, as well as higher BMI, were associated with increased risk of immune-related side effects.
The fine print
This was a medium-sized study based on medical records. There was no limitation on the type of cancer that was being treated. All of the patients also received different treatments. The only common factor was one dose of pembrolizumab.
Talk to your doctor if you are worried about the side effects of pembrolizumab treatment.
Published By :
Oct 01, 2019