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Increasing cure rates of solid tumors by immune checkpoint inhibitors


Immunotherapy has become the central pillar of cancer therapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), a major category of tumor immunotherapy, reactivate preexisting anticancer immunity. Initially, ICIs were approved only for advanced and metastatic cancers in the salvage setting after or concurrent with chemotherapy at a response rate of around 20-30% with a few exceptions. With significant progress over the decade, advances in immunotherapy have led to numerous clinical trials investigating ICIs as neoadjuvant and/or adjuvant therapies for resectable solid tumors. The promising results of these trials have led to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals of ICIs as neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapies for non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, triple-negative breast cancer, and bladder cancer, and the list continues to grow. This therapy represents a paradigm shift in cancer treatment, as many early-stage cancer patients could be cured with the introduction of immunotherapy in the early stages of cancer. Therefore, this topic became one of the main themes at the 2021 China Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop co-organized by the Chinese American Hematologist and Oncologist Network, the China National Medical Products Administration and the Tsinghua University School of Medicine. This review article summarizes the current landscape of ICI-based immunotherapy, emphasizing the new clinical developments of ICIs as curative neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapies for early-stage disease.

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