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The Abscopal Effect of Stereotactic Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy: Fool’s Gold or El Dorado?

July 31, 2019

An ‘abscopal’ effect if often used to refer to distant tumour regression after localised irradiation. Since the first report of the abscopal effect in the 1950s, well-documented cases with radiotherapy alone are very rare. It is widely accepted that the immune response plays an important role in the abscopal effect, although the mechanism is still unclear. With the recent success of cancer immunotherapy, there is growing interest in combining immunotherapy with radiotherapy to boost abscopal response rates. Compared with conventional radiotherapy, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) not only delivers ablative dose to the tumour, but may also induce robust immune responses. In this review we examine studies that combine SABR and immunotherapy. We review the preclinical rationale for SABR and immunotherapy combinations, the case for and against abscopal effects, and the current landscape of clinical trials.

Xing D, Siva S, Hanna GG.

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