Sarah B. Goldberg on the Side Effects of Immunotherapy

​Sarah B. Goldberg, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Yale Cancer Center, discusses the side effects of immunotherapy on patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Sarah B. Goldberg, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Yale Cancer Center, discusses the side effects of immunotherapy on patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Since drugs like nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) target and activate the immune system, many of the side effects that occur tend to be autoimmune-based. They include skin reactions, pneumonitis, colitis and endocrine problems. Patients need to talk with their nurses and doctors if they are experiencing side effects, which can usually be helped by steroids that shut off the immune response of certain affected organs.

Goldberg says that patients receiving immunotherapy tend to have fewer and less serious side effects than those who are undergoing chemotherapy.