Renal cell carcinoma is a common malignancy of the genitourinary system and is the eight most common cancer type in the United States. The overall incidence of renal cell carcinoma appears to be increasing but death rates have been declining. Patients with poor risk, advanced disease have a two-year survival rate of approximately 7%. Prior to the advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibodies, mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, and checkpoint inhibitors, IFN-α and high-dose IL-2, were standard of care treatment options but, conversely, their use is now limited to select patients. Immunotherapies have played a significant role in the treatment of various cancers and have continued to expand. It is of utmost importance that practitioners include checkpoint inhibitors as treatment options for renal cell carcinoma as they mark a new era in the treatment of advanced or relapsed setting. Nivolumab, pembrolizumab, avelumab, ipilimumab, and atezolizumab all play a role in management of disease as either monotherapy or in combination with other agents. Ongoing clinical trials are ongoing to further assess the benefits of inducing cellular immunity in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. In this article, the available data on immune checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of advanced or relapsed renal cell carcinoma and their place in therapy are reviewed.

Journal of oncology pharmacy practice : official publication of the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners. 2019 Oct 20 [Epub ahead of print]

Kirollos S Hanna

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.