Real-World Outcomes for Patients Treated With Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in the Veterans Affairs System

JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2020 Oct:4:918-928. doi: 10.1200/CCI.20.00084.


Purpose: Increasingly broad patient groups are being treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in clinical practice, but few studies have assessed their usage and outcomes in large, comprehensive real-world cohorts. We identified patients who received ICIs in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system and described patient characteristics and survival outcomes across multiple indications.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis using electronic health record data from VA facilities nationwide. Overall survival (OS) from time of ICI initiation for key indications was estimated by Kaplan-Meier. We also stratified OS by frailty status, as defined by a surrogate index developed in VA data. For select indications, we further compared outcomes to historic and concurrent control patients treated with standard-of-care regimens at the VA.

Results: We identified 11,888 patients who were treated with ICIs and determined the cancer type and indication for which they were treated. The cohort is enriched for patient groups that are under-represented in pivotal clinical trials (PCTs), including older, non-White, and/or higher disease burdened patients. Generally, OS observed in the VA cohort is lower than that reported in PCTs. After stratifying VA patients by frailty status, OS among nonfrail patients is more similar to OS reported in PCTs for some indications. Compared with internal VA control cohorts, patients treated with ICIs generally exhibited longer OS for all indications considered.

Conclusion: This study describes ICI outcomes across multiple tumor types in a real-world population at the VA. For most indications, real-world survival outcomes are observed to be lower than those reported in PCTs, but patients receiving ICIs still achieve longer survival relative to patients receiving standard of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Veterans*


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors