The Clinical and Reimbursement Landscape of Immuno-Oncology - Episode 5

Rationale for Immuno-Oncology

During this one-on-one interview, a part of the Oncology Stakeholders Summit, Spring 2015 series, Richard W. Joseph, MD, notes that the armamentarium of agents for the treatment of cancers such as metastatic melanoma is growing. Dr Joseph also explains the rationale for getting patients with melanoma on immunotherapy.

Dr Joseph, an assistant professor in the division of medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, discusses the difference in treatment outcomes for immunotherapies versus targeted therapies and explains that while targeted therapies and immunotherapies are both main options in metastatic melanoma, most medical oncologists prefer to treat their patients with immunotherapy.

“Immunotherapies are the only therapies that are going to cause long, durable remissions,” he says.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of data, healthcare professionals do not have much guidance on whether to begin treatment with immunotherapy or a targeted therapy, explains Dr Joseph. Currently, clinicians make treatment decisions based on disease severity. Patients with less symptomatic disease start with immunotherapy, whereas patients with bulky disease start with a targeted agent, then transition to immunotherapy.

Dr Joseph further discusses the potential of immunotherapy in the treatment of bulky disease, and expressed the hope that newer agents that work more rapidly, and the use of combination therapy, may be more effective in treating bulky disease.