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What are the Side Effects of Immunotherapies and How Do They Arise?

[…] Understanding irAEs

With the advent of immunotherapy, oncologists and cancer researchers accustomed to the familiar, decades-old set of toxic side effects from chemotherapies and radiotherapy are being challenged with understanding and defining a new set of short-term and long-term side effects, referred to as irAEs, to provide timely and effective remedies to cancer patients experiencing them.

Fifty or more percent of patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors experience some side effects, from rash and local inflammation that can be treated with steroids and/or by temporarily discontinuing the treatment, to severe side effects, such as type 1 diabetes (T1D), thyroid and cardiac issues. While the incidence of adverse events is high, the severity varies, with only a small percentage of patients experiencing serious side effects, explains Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor of Metabolism and Endocrinology and Director of the Hormone Research Institute in the Diabetes Center at University of California San Francisco.

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