Perception of cure among patients with metastatic genitourinary cancer initiating immunotherapy

J Immunother Cancer. 2019 Mar 12;7(1):71. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0557-5.


Background: Despite the advent of checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) for advanced genitourinary (GU) cancers, existing studies suggest that durable complete responses are observed in fewer than 10% of patients. This study sought to evaluate the association between expectations of cure reported by patients with advanced GU cancers initiating immunotherapy and quality of life (QOL), anxiety and depression.

Patient and methods: A single-institution, cross-sectional survey study was conducted with patients preparing to receive CPIs for treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC), urothelial cancer (UC) and prostate cancer (PC). Patients were assessed prior to initiation of immunotherapy for expectations of cure (divided into four quartiles), quality of life (QOL; Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-General [FACT-G]), and symptoms of anxiety and depression (PROMIS).

Results: Sixty patients were enrolled, with metastatic RCC, UC and PC comprising 63, 28 and 8% of the study population, respectively. Median age of the cohort was 65 (range, 31-91), and 68% were male; 33% received CPI in the first-line setting. Despite extensive counseling from oncologists regarding potential clinical outcomes with immunotherapy, a substantial proportion of patients (23%) harbored inaccurate expectations regarding the potential benefit of immunotherapy. Importantly, patients with accurate expectations of cure reported lower anxiety scores using the PROMIS-Anxiety inventory. No significant differences were found between expectations of cure and quality of life or depression, using the FACT-G and PROMIS-Depression inventories, respectively.

Conclusion: The current study found that a considerable proportion of patients with advanced GU cancers harbor inaccurate expectations concerning the potential benefit of immunotherapy. These results suggest that more effective counselling may mitigate patient anxiety, and potentially promote treatment satisfaction and adherence.

Keywords: Decision making; Genitourinary cancers; Perception of prognosis; Treatment outcomes understanding.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / immunology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Health Questionnaire
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / psychology
  • Urologic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urologic Neoplasms / immunology