Trials of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have published patient-reported quality of life (QOL), but the size and heterogeneity of this literature can make patient education difficult. This meta-analysis aimed to describe change in QOL and symptomatology in patients receiving ICIs for cancer.
Following PRISMA guidelines, databases were searched through November 2019 for articles or abstracts of prospective, original studies reporting longitudinal QOL in adult cancer patients treated with ICIs. The prespecified primary outcomes were change in global QOL among patients treated with ICIs and difference in change since baseline in global QOL between patients treated with ICI vs. non-ICI active treatment. Secondary outcomes included physical functioning and symptomatology. All statistical tests were 2-sided.
Twenty-six of 20,323 publications met inclusion criteria. Global QOL did not change over time in patients treated with ICIs (k = 26, n = 6,974, P = .19). Larger improvements in global QOL was observed in patients receiving ICI vs. non-ICI regimens (k = 16, ICI n = 3,588, non-ICI n = 2,948, P < .001). Physical functioning did not change in patients treated with ICIs (k = 14, n = 3,169, P=.47); there were no differences in mean change between ICI vs. non-ICI regimens (k = 11, n = 4,630, P=.94. Regarding symptoms, appetite loss, insomnia, and pain severity decreased but dyspnea severity increased in patients treated with ICIs (k = 14, n = 3,243-3,499) (Ps < 0.001). Insomnia severity was higher in patients treated with ICIs than non-ICI regimens (k = 11, n = 4,791) (P < .001).
This study is among the first to quantitatively summarize QOL in patients treated with ICIs. Findings suggest ICI recipients report no change in global QOL and higher QOL than patients treated with non-ICI regimens.

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