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Cancer groups offer guidance on immune-related adverse events


 

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have released new guidelines designed to help clinicians manage the unique and sometimes severe side effects associated with cancer immunotherapy agents.

These guidelines meet a growing need to help practicing clinicians identify and best manage immune-related adverse events, according to Bryan J. Schneider, MD, of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and vice chair of the NCCN Panel on Management of Immunotherapy-Related Toxicities.

“The mechanism of action of these anticancer therapies is so much different from anything that we’re used to,” Dr. Schneider said in an interview.

Dr. Bryan J. Schneider of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and vice chair of the NCCN Panel on Management of Immunotherapy-Related Toxicities

Dr. Bryan J. Schneider

“We’re experienced with chemotherapy, and we are very comfortable with the side effects,” he said. “The immunotherapy story is just an entirely different world because, as I tell patients, the therapies aren’t directly damaging cancer cells like chemotherapy. Instead, they are helping the immune system to identify the cancer cells as abnormal and mount an assault. Proteins on cancer cells may suppress the immune response and these therapies effectively ‘release these brakes’ so the immune system can attack.”

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