Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Palliative care meets immunotherapy: what happens as cancer paradigms change?
  1. Christine R Sanderson1,2,3 and
  2. David C Currow3
  1. 1 School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame Australia, Darlinghurst, Australia
  2. 2 Calvary Health Care Kogarah, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 IMPACCT, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr David C Currow, IMPACCT, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia; david.currow{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

In less than a decade, we have witnessed what may turn out to be the start of a true paradigm shift in cancer therapy. The introduction of targeted and immune therapies has been rapid. In 2010, advanced melanoma had a median overall survival of 6–9 months and less than 20% could expect to be alive at 2 years. Palliative chemotherapy with dacarbazine, the standard of care, did not improve survival.1 They very much needed palliative care—for symptom management, advance care planning and multidisciplinary support to get the best out of their remaining time. But by 2018, the very same patients, if they receive combination CTLA-4 and PD-1 blocking agents, have a 3-year median survival of 58%. These outcomes are associated with 59% incidence of grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events.2

Immunotherapy agents target a range of immune surveillance mechanisms that are active against cancer cells, and outcomes of a succession of quickly evolving protocols continue to improve as new regimens are trialled. In relation to melanoma, the words ‘durable response’ may indeed one day be replaced …

View Full Text


  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.