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New Anticancer Immunotherapies

Implications for Physical Therapy

Tabares, Tyler SPT1; Unmack, Todd SPT2; Calys, Mary DPT3; Stehno-Bittel, Lisa PhD4

doi: 10.1097/01.REO.0000000000000144
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Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year. Yet, survival from cancer has been increasing dramatically, with more than 2 million fewer cancer deaths during the past 2 decades than in previous decades. Physical therapists are familiar with the side effects of common chemotherapies and radiation therapy, but new immunotherapy drugs coming to the market have the potential to completely change the cancer treatment landscape. They provide new hope for cures that previously were not possible, but they also have their own side effects and toxicity issues. Because of their recent introduction to the market, no studies have examined the effects of immunotherapies on cancer rehabilitation, yet it is an essential question. The purpose of this article is to review 2 categories of new cancer immunotherapy treatments: checkpoint inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor T cells. The physiological mechanism, known side effects, and toxicities are reviewed. We discuss the implications for physical therapists caring for cancer survivors and propose conservative interventions, ensuring that therapists provide the highest level of care for our patients with cancer. The purpose of this article is to inform the rehabilitation professional and set the baseline understanding for subsequent research studies elucidating the long-term effect of immunotherapies on cancer rehabilitation.

1Student, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

2Student, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

3Physical Therapist, North Kansas City Hospital, Kansas City, MO

4Pharmacology Researcher, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Correspondence: Lisa Stehno-Bittel, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, MS2002, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160 (lbittel@kumc.edu).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Oncology Physical Therapy, APTA
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