Incidence of Pericardial Effusion in Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Receiving Immunotherapy

Lung Cancer

Canale ML, et al. Adv Ther 2020.


INTRODUCTION: Cardiovascular toxicity of immunotherapy represents an underreported but potentially fatal side effect. A relatively high incidence of pericardial disease has been noticed in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed a population of patients with advanced NSCLC receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) looking for the presence of pericardial effusion at baseline or during treatment. The study population was compared with a control group treated with chemotherapy. All patients were checked for the presence of concomitant pleural effusion.

RESULTS: We identify 60 patients (36 male/24 female, median age 70 years [range 43-81]). Prevalent histology was adenocarcinoma (65%) followed by squamous cell carcinoma (28%) and large cell or not otherwise specified (NOS) carcinoma (7%). Treatment consisted of nivolumab 3 mg/kg every 14 days (52 cases; 45 as second-line and 7 as third-line treatment) or pembrolizumab 200 mg (8 cases; all first-line treatment) for a total of 302 cycles delivered. Four out of 60 patients (6.7%) developed pericardial effusion during treatment, in two cases (3.3%) without concomitant pleural effusion, compared to 2 out of 60 (3.3%) in the control group in one case without concomitant pleural effusion (1.6%). Median time of onset was 40 days. Myocarditis was not observed.

CONCLUSION: Our findings confirm pericardial effusion as a relatively frequent side effect of immunotherapy in NSCLC. Clinicians should be aware of this specific toxicity in patients with metastatic NSCLC receiving immunotherapy and refer to a cardiologist for a multidisciplinary approach.