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Five-year review of corticosteroid duration and complications in the management of immune checkpoint inhibitor-related diarrhoea and colitis in advanced melanoma

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David M. Favara, Lavinia Spain, Lewis Au, James Clark, Ella Daniels, Stefan DIem, Dharmisha Chauhan, Samra Turajlic, Nick Powell, James M. Larkin, Nadia Yousaf

Original languageEnglish
Article number000585
JournalESMO Open
Issue number4
Published8 Jul 2020

King's Authors


Background Immune-related diarrhoea/colitis (ir-D/C) is a common adverse event of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy. Guidelines recommend corticosteroid (CS) treatment; however, the average treatment duration for ir-D/C remains poorly defined. Methods All advanced melanoma patients treated with ICI therapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital between 2011 and 2016 were reviewed to identify ir-D/C cases alongside clinical variables. Results 117 any-grade ir-D/C episodes occurred in 109 (21%) patients out of a total of 519 patients treated (ipilimumab=77 episodes, anti-PD1=17 (nivolumab or pembrolizumab), ipilimumab and nivolumab=23 (ipi+nivo)) (seven patients had ir-D/C more than once on different lines of treatment) and >/=grade 3 ir-D/C occurred most frequently (63/519 patients (12%) vs 29/519 (5%) grade 1, and 25/519 (5%) grade 2). Median onset (days) of all-grade ir-D/C after starting ICI therapy was 41 for ipilimumab (IQR 24 to 59, n=77), 91 for anti-PD1 (IQR 46 to 355, n=17) and 45 for ipi+nivo (IQR 24 to 67, n=23). In 71/117 (61%) patients, ir-D/C episodes were treated with CS (17% grade 2; 79% grade 3/4): 54 being steroid-responsive; 17 being steroid-refractory and received additional anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) treatment. Median grade 3 ir-D/C CS duration was similar across treatments, averaging 58 days. Median overall CS duration (days) was longer in the grade 3/4 D/C steroid-refractory group (94 vs 45 days). Infection developed in 11/71 (15%) CS recipients and in 6/17 (35%) anti-TNF recipients. In 65/117 (55%) patients, ir-D/C episodes were investigated with flexible sigmoidoscopy. Of these patients, 38/65 (58%) had macroscopic colitis and 12/65 (18%) had microscopic colitis. The steroid-refractory group had more macroscopic changes, 13/17 (76%), than the steroid-responsive group, 22/41 (54%). Conclusion Rates of grade 3 ir-D/C were higher than reported in clinical trials. The 58-day median duration of CS therapy for grade 3 ir-D/C places a significant number of patients at risk of complications. We demonstrate that microscopic colitis is an important subgroup, advocating biopsies in ir-D/C even with macroscopically normal bowel.

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