J Korean Med Assoc.  2021 May;64(5):358-365. 10.5124/jkma.2021.64.5.358.

Management of adverse events in cancer treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors

  • 1Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital, Busan, Korea


The use of immune checkpoint inhibitors is associated with a spectrum of immune-related adverse events related to the mechanism of action which is quite different from that of cytotoxic chemotherapy. Adverse effects can affect multiple organs of the body and are most common in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and endocrine tissues, including the thyroid, adrenal gland, pituitary gland, as well as musculoskeletal, renal, nervous, hematologic, cardiovascular, and ocular systems. Any changes should be considered as being related to treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Adverse events are very infrequent, but may be very serious and, even lethal, such as neurological disorders and myocarditis. When compared with standard chemotherapeutic agents, programmed death 1/programmed deathligand 1inhibitors are associated with a lower incidence of bone marrow suppression, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy can usually continue in the presence of mild immune-related adverse events with close monitoring. However, moderate to severe immune-related adverse events may be associated with a severe decline in organ function and quality of life, and may result in fatal outcomes. Hence, these toxicities require early detection and proper management. The management of immune-related adverse events usually involves corticosteroid therapy or the use of immunomodulators. The use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with preexisting autoimmune disease or a history of prior organ transplant should include careful consideration and a robust discussion of potential risks and benefits.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Immune-related adverse events; Corticosteroids; Immunologic factors; 면역관문억제제; 면역관련 부작용; 코티코스테로이드; 면역조절제
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