The impact of corticosteroid use during anti-PD1 treatment

Pan EY, Merl MY, Lin K.
J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2019 Sep 7.
DOI: 10.1177/1078155219872786.



The advent of anti-PD1 therapy for cancer treatment has led to improvements in response rates and overall survival. However, anti-PD1 therapy has the potential to cause immune-related adverse events (irAEs), which can be treated with corticosteroids if severe. The clinical implications of concomitant immunotherapy and systemic steroids remain unclear, as short courses of steroids do not significantly suppress T-cell function. The primary objective of this study is to determine if the use of concomitant steroids impacts the efficacy of anti-PD1 therapy.


This retrospective, single-center study reviewed adult patients who received at least four cycles of nivolumab or pembrolizumab for the treatment of melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), or renal cell carcinoma from November 2014 to February 2016. Patients who received steroids (prednisone equivalent >10 mg) during anti-PD1 therapy were divided into two main cohorts based on the duration of steroid administration of ≤2 weeks or >2 weeks. Time to disease progression, overall response, and overall survival were assessed.


The RESORT trial was a multicenter, randomized, open-label, phase 2 study conducted between November 2012 and November 2017 in Italy. Patients with clear-cell mRCC pretreated with nephrectomy and undergoing radical metastasectomy (three or fewer lesions) were eligible for the study. Patients were randomized (1:1) within 12 wk from metastasectomy to sorafenib (standard dose 400 mg twice daily) or observation for a maximum of 52 wk. Stratification factors were interval from nephrectomy, site, and number of lesions. Overall, 76 patients were screened and 69 were randomized: 33 were assigned to sorafenib and 36 to observation. The primary endpoint was recurrence-free survival (RFS). Secondary endpoints were overall survival and the safety profile.


High-dose steroids for long durations during anti-PD1 therapy may be associated with poorer survival outcomes.

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