Risks Versus Benefits in Combining Immunotherapies

Combining two checkpoint blockades can be very efficacious in treating metastatic melanoma, but the benefits come with increased risk of adverse events, too.

While combining immune checkpoint inhibitors is often an efficacious way to treat advanced melanoma, it can also cause an increase in adverse events, explained Ryan J. Sullivan, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and of hematology/oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

For patients with widespread disease who were given a poor prognosis, Sullivan typically prescribes a two-drug regimen, since they need the best chance of response in order to live. However, for most other patients, it is appropriate to give them single-agent immunotherapy treatment, and reassess after 6 to 8 weeks.