Treatment of rheumatic adverse events of cancer immunotherapy

Pankti Reid, Laura C. Cappelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), used to treat many advanced cancers, activate the immune system to elicit an antitumor response. ICIs can also cause immune-related adverse events (irAEs) when nontumor tissues are affected by excess inflammation and autoimmunity. Rheumatic irAEs include inflammatory arthritis, myositis, sicca syndrome, polymyalgia rheumatica, and several other rare phenotypes. Treating rheumatic irAEs requires balancing the desire to decrease off-target inflammation while not negatively impacting the antitumor immune response. In this review, treatment recommendations for rheumatic irAEs have been discussed. Pathogenesis of rheumatic irAEs has been briefly reviewed. Knowledge about the effects of corticosteroids and steroid-sparing agents on tumor responses has been detailed to give context for treatment decisions. Recommendations ultimately depend not only on the clinical presentation and severity of the irAE but also on the goals of cancer treatment. Finally, how to safely use ICI therapy in patients with preexisting autoimmune diseases is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101805
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Rheumatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immune-related adverse events
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Myositis
  • Sicca syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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