City of Hope study sheds new light on decades-old standard cancer treatment

Continuing immunotherapy treatments when a renal cancer patient's disease has progressed may actually do more harm than good, according to results of a new study from Los Angeles-based City of Hope researchers. 

This is contrary to what has been considered the standard for more than two decades, according to the press release. 

"Our study is the first to show that continuing immunotherapy does not work and, if anything, adds toxicity that can lead to devastating side effects," Sumanta Pal, MD, the co-director of City of Hope's Kidney Cancer Program and lead author of the research said in a statement. 

The research, published June 5 in The Lancet, was a phase 3 clinical trial that involved 522 patients. Each patient received either atezolizumab–cabozantinib or cabozantinib and of those individuals, 65 percent and 64 percent respectively, had further disease progression or died, according to the study, indicating that "the addition of atezolizumab to cabozantinib did not improve clinical outcomes and led to increased toxicity," researchers wrote.

Although additional studies are needed on the matter, researchers noted that the findings should "discourage sequential use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with renal cell carcinoma outside of clinical trials."

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