Immunotherapy in Genitourinary Cancers: Role of Surgical Pathologist for Detection of Immunooncologic Predictive Factors

Adv Anat Pathol. 2022 Nov 22. doi: 10.1097/PAP.0000000000000383. Online ahead of print.


Genitourinary malignancies include a broad spectrum of distinct tumor entities occurring in the kidney, the urinary tract, the prostate, the adrenal glands, the penis, and testicles. Each tumor entity presents with unique biological characteristics, especially in terms of immunobiology. The immune landscape of genitourinary malignancies differs between immunoreactive tumors like urothelial carcinoma or carcinomas of the kidney, for which several immunotherapeutic treatment options have been approved in the past years. In contrast, prostate cancer presents with low immunogenicity and previous trials exploring immune checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapeutic agents did not proof substantial survival benefits. In this review, we are presenting a streamlined overview on the role of surgical pathologists within the contemporary practice of immune oncology. It includes current indications for pathologic programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) assessment and important pathologic considerations on PD-L1 testing harmonization including interassay and algorithm variabilities. In addition, we will discuss emerging biomarkers beyond PD-L1 and their potential to predict immunotherapy responses including tumor mutational burden, microsatellite instability, gene expression signatures, and histologic factors.