Toxicity of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Considerations for the Surgeon

Beth A. Helmink, Christina L. Roland, Colleen M. Kiernan, Jennifer A. Wargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The use of immunotherapeutic agents, specifically immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for solid malignancies, is rapidly rising, and many new agents and treatment combinations are in development. However, ICIs have a unique side-effect profile of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) compared with chemotherapeutic agents or targeted therapies. Methods: In this report the diverse spectrum of irAEs is highlighted using two patients with metastatic melanoma undergoing treatment with ICIs. We supplement these case reports with a brief literature review of the data regarding the safety of surgical intervention in patients taking irAEs. Results: The report describes the basic approach to the detection and management of irAEs, notes important perioperative considerations, and discusses the safety of surgical intervention for these patients. Conclusions: Overall, these irAEs represent a diverse group of pathologies with variable timing and sometimes subtle presentation requiring careful monitoring and heightened clinical suspicion for potential toxicity by all providers, including surgeons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1533-1545
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Checkpoint blockade
  • Immunotherapy
  • Melanoma
  • Surgery


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