Pneumonitis related to the use of PD-1 inhibitor therapy is higher among patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and during combination therapy, a study published in JAMA Oncology has shown.1

Though rare, PD-1 inhibitor-related pneumonitis is a clinically serious and potentially life-threatening adverse event; however, its incidence across different tumor types and treatment regimens remains unclear.

For the study, investigators analyzed data from 20 trials that evaluated PD-1 inhibitor therapy in patients with melanoma, NSCLC, or RCC. A total of 4496 patients were included in the analysis.

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Results showed that the overall incidence of pneumonitis during PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy was 2.7% (95% CI, 1.9-3.6) for all-grade pneumonitis and 0.8% (95% CI, 0.4-1.2) for grade 3 or higher pneumonitis.

The researchers found that the incidence of all-grade (P =.002) and grade 3 or higher (P <.001) pneumonitis was significantly higher in patients with NSCLC compared with those with melanoma. The incidence of all-grade pneumonitis was also significantly higher in patients with RCC vs melanoma (P <.001), but not for grade 3 or higher pneumonitis.

The study further revealed a higher incidence of all-grade (P <.001) and grade 3 or higher (P =.001) during combination therapy than monotherapy.

“These findings contribute to enhance awareness among clinicians and support further investigations to meet the clinical needs,” the authors conclude.


1. Nishino M, Giobbie-Hurder A, Hatabu H, Ramaiya NH, Hodi S. Incidence of programmed cell death 1 inhibitor-related pneumonitis in patients with advanced cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2016 Aug 18. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.2453. [Epub ahead of print]