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21.03.2018 | short review | Ausgabe 2/2018 Open Access

memo - Magazine of European Medical Oncology 2/2018

Pitfalls in the radiological response assessment of immunotherapy

memo - Magazine of European Medical Oncology > Ausgabe 2/2018
MD, PhD Lucian Beer, MD Maximilian Hochmair, MD Helmut Prosch


Immunotherapies comprise of a class of cancer therapies that are increasingly used for treatment of several cancer entities. Active immunotherapies encompassing immune checkpoint inhibitors are the most widespread class of immunotherapies, with indications for melanoma, non-small lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, urothelial carcinoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated unique response patterns that are not adequately captured by traditional response criteria such das the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) and World Health Organization criteria. Consequently, adaptions of these criteria have been released such as the immune-related RECIST and immune RECIST, which account for the specialities of immunotherapies. Immunotherapies can cause a distinct set of adverse events such as pneumonitis, colitis, and hypophysitis. In addition, atypical treatment response patterns termed pseudoprogression have been observed. Thereby, new or enlarging lesions appear after treatment start and mimic tumor progression, which is followed by an eventual decrease in total tumor burden. In this review article we will describe pitfalls in the radiological response assessment of immunotherapies, focusing on pseudoprogression and imaging appearances of common immune-related adverse events.

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