Immunotherapy is a new and promising approach to treating pediatric cancers. These types of therapies have unique mechanisms of action for identifying and fighting cancer, as compared with traditional chemotherapy, and therefore are associated with different therapy-related adverse events (AEs). The purpose of this systematic review was to review available evidence to: (a) identify commonly reported AEs associated with immunotherapy agents frequently used in pediatric oncology and (b) generate recommendations for nursing practice.
A clinical question was developed and used to guide the systematic literature review. Five immunotherapy agents (dinutuximab, blinatumomab, rituximab, inotuzumab ozogamicin, brentuximab vedotin) were selected for inclusion secondary to their high relevance to pediatric oncology. A literature search was conducted to locate articles published between January 1, 2003 and October 31, 2018.
Seventeen articles met eligibility criteria for inclusion and were evaluated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation criteria. The most commonly reported AEs for the selected immunotherapy agents were identified and summarized. Strong recommendations are made for nurses to become familiar with the unique AE profiles associated with individual immunotherapy agents. Agent-specific recommendations for nursing practice regarding AEs associated with dinutuximab and rituximab were generated.
Immunotherapy is rapidly emerging as an effective therapy for pediatric cancers. Nurses need to be aware of the breadth of agent-specific, immunotherapy-related AEs to appropriately monitor and manage patients receiving these therapies. Additional work is needed to confidently profile immunotherapy-related AEs in pediatric oncology and to develop agent-specific educational materials for patients/families.