Immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors has arrived and begun to change the landscape of clinical oncology, including for patients with renal cell carcinoma. Specifically, drugs targeting the programmed death 1 and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated antigen pathways have demonstrated remarkable responses for patients in clinical trials. In this article, we review the most recent available data for immune checkpoint inhibitors for patients with renal cell carcinoma. We discuss potential strategies for rational combination therapies in these patients, some of which are currently being studied, and address important future considerations for use of these novel agents in the years to come.
In 2015 alone, about 61,560 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the USA, with an estimated 14,080 kidney-cancer related deaths . These numbers largely reflect cases of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common primary cancer of the kidney. While many tumors are found early and can be cured surgically, approximately 20% present with de novo metastatic disease and about a third of patients diagnosed with localized RCC will ultimately develop metastases [2,3]. The management of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) has undergone substantial changes in the past decade, with novel systemic strategies fundamentally altering the approach to this disease.
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