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May 29, 2020

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors. They are revolutionary and transforming cancer care. They shrink tumors and extend lives. Plus they have a better side effect profile than traditional therapies for conditions like metastatic lung cancer, so when those with really poor performance status can't tolerate traditional chemotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors are an attractive option. We talk on today's podcast with Laura Petrillo, a palliative medicine clinician and investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Laura was the first author of a paper published in Cancer titled "Performance Status and End-Of-Life Care Among Adults With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Receiving Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors." ( In this study, Laura looked at 237 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who initiated immune checkpoint inhibitors from 2015 to 2017. She found that those with impaired performance status had significantly shorter survival after treatment with these medications that those with a bettter performance status. They also receive immune checkpoint inhibitors near death more often than those with better performance status, and they found that those recieving immune checkpoint inhibitors near the end of life had lower hospice use and an increased risk of death in the hospital. Along with how we should think about the findings of this study, we talk about common side effects of immune checkpoint inhitors that geriatricians and palliative care clinicians should know about, the cost of theses medications, and the differences with different types of cancer treatments like "targeted therapies". by: Eric Widera