Recent advances in the understanding of immunology and antitumor immune responses have led to the development of new immunotherapies, including vaccination approaches and monoclonal antibodies that inhibit immune checkpoint pathways. These strategies have shown activity in melanoma and are now being tested in lung cancer. The antibody drugs targeting cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 and programmed cell death protein-1 immune checkpoint pathways work by restoring immune responses against cancer cells, and are associated with unconventional response patterns and immune-related adverse events as a result of their mechanism of action. As these new agents enter the clinic, nurses and other health care providers will require an understanding of the unique efficacy and safety profiles with immunotherapy to optimize potential patient benefits. This paper provides a review of the new immunotherapeutic agents in development for lung cancer, and strategies for managing patients on immunotherapy.
Keywords: immunotherapy; ipilimumab; lung cancer; nivolumab; nursing; vaccination.