Article and Video CATEGORIES

Cancer Journey

Search By

Time to Response to Immunotherapy and the Concept of Pseudoprogression
GRACE Videos and Articles
GRACE Cancer Video Library - Lung



Dr. Eddie Garon reviews the pattern of response to immunotherapy in lung cancer, along with the concept of "pseudoprogression".

Download Transcript

[ratingwidget post_id=0]

Please feel free to offer comments and raise questions in our Discussion Forums.



So, we have seen, certainly, some variability in the time to response; we have seen some people who will even have palpable lesions that will shrink, you know, within days — although that is rare. In general, what we find is that, generally, somewhere around 6 to 8 weeks is when we see patients who are having response to drug. It tends to be quite rapid — when you look at the clinical data, you can see that probably most of the patients who have what we call a clinical response to these drugs, that response occurs probably at the first imaging analysis, usually somewhere about two months after starting. Although there has always been this sense that it will take a long period of time for someone to respond to an immune therapy, and that is true, for instance, compared to a standard chemotherapy, where the effects are often seen within a couple of weeks, here it tends to be delayed from that, but it doesn’t tend to be delayed for months and months.

One other important issue to address is this issue of pseudoprogression, and this is something that people in the immunotherapy field have talked about for a long time, that if you have an effective immunotherapy, that you may have immune cells that infiltrate into the tumor and, as a result, rather than getting smaller, that the tumor would actually get larger. That could certainly happen over a short period of time, but what I would say, to date, is it’s not something we’ve seen a lot in lung cancer. Our colleagues in melanoma certainly report this as being a significant issue — patients who will have initial growth of their tumor on imaging, and then, afterwards, will have shrinking. We certainly do have several intriguing anecdotes, sort of individual patients that people will describe who have had, sort of, increases in their tumor volume, but then get better, but I would say that it is actually quite uncommon in lung cancer.

What we do see with some frequency is someone who will develop a new lesion. So, for instance, maybe they’ll have three areas that you’re following, all of them will get a little bit better, but then you will find one area that is a new area, that’s, you know, a centimeter and a half, that shows up on scans. By our typical way of evaluating radiographs, we would consider that to be progression. In my clinic, and as part of clinical trials, we’ve incorporated sort of different evaluations, that have, in some cases, allowed patents in that setting to continue on therapy. And, what I would say is, in somebody who is feeling good, who has an ambiguous response, one like what I mentioned, where several areas got better, but one area is new, or one area grew while other areas got better, but is clinically doing well — it may be worth continuing that patient on drug. But, when I see patients in second opinion and things like that, I will say that I much more frequently tell them that it is time to stop the immune checkpoint inhibitor, than to continue and hope for pseudoprogression. That, I would say, is very rare to see; we treated 98 patients at UCLA on the KEYNOTE-001 study, and I can’t think of a single patient that had, what we would call, sort of a flare response, where everything on the scan got worse, and then subsequently got better. So, I can’t give you an exact percentage, but what I would say is that it is rare. The thing that’s going to be more important is trying to interpret some of these ambiguous radiographic responses, which can be seen, but if everything is getting worse on the scan, what I’ve told people is, almost certainly, it means that the drug is not working.

Next Previous link

Previous PostNext Post

Related Content

Blood Cancer OncTalk
In this series of videos, Dr. Aaron Goodman chairs the discussion along with speakers Drs. Tycel Phillips, Sridvi Rajeeve, Marco Ruiz and Alankrita Taneja.  Topics include:
View the full Targeted Therapies in Lung Cancer Patient forum from 2023 in YouTube and embedded here! 
Terapias Dirigidas de Cáncer de Pulmón 2023
En este foro anual de pacientes en vivo, los principales oncólogos torácicos de todo el mundo discuten temas relevantes para los objetivos del cáncer de pulmón, así como mutaciones raras. En esta serie de videos el Dr. Luis Corrales presenta una breve descripción de KRAS y explica los subtipos de NSCLC y sus opciones de tratamiento. Click aquí para ver la playlist completa.    

Forum Discussions

Hi Oaktowngrrl,  Welcome to Grace.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.


 Finding a reputable dedicated thoracic surgeon for lung surgery might be difficult, as it is a complex and...

Hello Hello,  Just want to let you know I see your post and will respond more appropriately in the morning. 

Hi, I'm sorry for the delay.  It's OK to post with questions here, it's what the forums are for.  However, our expertise is not in diagnosing cancer but in knowledge of...

Recent Comments

Hi Oaktowngrrl,  Welcome to…
By JanineT GRACE … on
I can understand why you're…
By paulryan on
I'm so sorry to hear it.
By Andrian on

 I'm sure you're…
By JanineT GRACE … on