Meta-analyses of Quality of Life in Patients Treated With Checkpoint Inhibitors

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Findings from two meta-analyses designed to summarize quality-of-life data on patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for cancer were presented at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2020 (Abstract 1568O). These meta-analyses found that patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors had better quality of life than patients receiving non–immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment.

The study was also conducted with the aim of making this information more accessible to patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors for cancer.

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Quality-of-Life Findings

The two meta-analyses were performed on publications of PD-1/PD-L1 and/or CTLA-4 inhibitors that provided mean-level quality of life using the EORTC QLQ-C30 and/or EQ-5D questionnaires. One meta-analysis examined change in quality of life in patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors from pretreatment to follow-up, which occurred approximately 12 to 24 weeks later. The second meta-analysis compared quality of life at follow-up between immune checkpoint inhibitor and non–immune checkpoint inhibitor regimens in randomized trials. Both had moderator analyses examining immune checkpoint inhibitor regimen, comparator regimen, disease site, age, sex, follow-up period, and risk of bias.

The investigators identified 20,323 publications, of which 26 studies met the inclusion criteria.

The first meta-analysis, which comprised 26 studies and 6,965 patients, indicated that quality of life did not change over time in patients following immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment (P > .05). Some subgroups reported improvements in quality of life, such as patients treated with certain immune checkpoint inhibitors or for certain cancer types. Other significant moderators included sex and risk of bias (P < .05).

The second meta-analysis comprised 16 studies and 6,536 patients; among these patients, 3,588 received immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment and 2,948 patients received non–immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Better follow-up quality of life was observed in patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor vs non–immune checkpoint inhibitor regimens (P < .05). Significant moderators in this analysis included immune checkpoint inhibitor regimen, cancer type, age, and risk of bias (P < .05).

The authors noted that their study is among the first to quantitatively summarize quality of life in patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. These findings suggest that patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors have more stable and better quality of life overall than patients treated with non–immune checkpoint inhibitor regimens for similar cancer.

They concluded that these results confirm that, despite immune-related toxicities, immune checkpoint inhibitors are generally well tolerated.

Disclosure: Funding for this study was provided by the National Cancer Institute. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.