The following article features coverage from the IASLC North America Conference on Lung Cancer 2019 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Patients with lung cancer who are undergoing immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy are at an elevated risk of developing complications related to the flu. There is limited research on the effects of the flu vaccine on this population, however a recent study found that this population could suffer rates of immune-related adverse events as high as 21% after getting the vaccine.

In an effort to better understand the efficacy and safety related to flu vaccination in patients who have received ICIs, researchers led by Nathan Roberts, MD, of the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina, retrospectively analyzed patients with cancer who received ICI therapy at the primary infusion center of their institution. Their findings were presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2019 North America Conference on Lung Cancer (NACLC 2019) in Chicago, Illinois.

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In the analysis, the researchers included 285 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who were treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). They determined whether a patient suffered an immune-related adverse event based on the need to administer steroids during treatment. Of those patients who were given a flu vaccine (45 patients), only 2 (4%) needed steroids. Among those who were not given the vaccine, 27 (11%) required steroids.

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“Our study provides evidence that vaccination against influenza after receiving ICI does not confer an increased risk of severe (grades 3-4) [immune-related adverse events] in lung cancer patients receiving,” the authors wrote. “These data support the safety of routine vaccination against influenza in patients receiving ICI [therapy].”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the IASLC annual meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Läubli H, Balmelli C, Kaufmann L, et al. Influenza vaccination of cancer patients during PD-1 blockade induces serological protection but may raise the risk for immune-related adverse events. J Immunother Cancer. 2018;6:40
  2. Roberts N, Dothard A, Ahmed T, et al. Safety and efficacy of flu vaccination after treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors: a retrospective review.
  3. Presented at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2019 North America Conference on Lung Cancer (NACLC 2019); October 10-12, 2019: Chicago, Illinois. Abstract OA01.04.