Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) are acclaimed for producing long-lasting anti-tumor responses, but they also generate immune-related adverse events (irAEs), which can range in severity and have an impact on health-related quality of life (HRQL). For a study, researchers sought to gain insight into the progression of symptoms and the impact of irAEs on HRQL as evaluated by the treatment-specific Utrecht Symptom Diary Immunotherapy (USD-I).

Patients with melanoma or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who were treated with PD(L)1 inhibitor between February 2016 and December 2018 were included in this observational cohort research. The patient-scored, treatment-specific USD-I, completed as part of usual therapy, was used to collect data on symptoms, wellbeing, and the impact of side effects on HRQL. Patients rated the severity of their symptoms on a 0-10 numeric rating scale (NRS); NRS3 was considered clinically relevant.

A total of 162 individuals with melanoma (55%) or NSCLC (45%) completed 1,493 USDs (median seven per patient). Inactivity, exhaustion, discomfort, cough, and sleeping issues were patients’ most frequently reported clinically relevant complaints. During therapy, the prevalence of symptoms reduced. In general, patients stated that side effects had little impact on their HRQL. However, a greater number of clinically significant symptoms at a given time point was associated with worse well-being.

The findings showed that ICI therapy was often well tolerated. However, the amount of clinically significant symptoms, in particular, might influence a patient’s well-being. The systematic use of an ICI-tailored PROM might open the door to an organized discussion of symptoms, promoting individualized care throughout treatment.