Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021.
World J Clin Oncol. Mar 24, 2021; 12(3): 150-163
Published online Mar 24, 2021. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v12.i3.150
Table 1 Immunotherapy agents approved for treatment by the United States Food and Drug Administration in various types of cancers
Organ system
Tumor marker
Staging at initiation of immunotherapy
Brain and central nervous systemGBMIDH mutations, 1p19q deletion, MGMT promoter methylation, EGFRVIII amplificationRecurrent GBMBevacizumab
Pediatric neuroblastomaHomovanillic acid, Vanillylmandelic acid, LDH, NSEHigh risk patients with partial response to first line agents Dinutuximab
Head and neckHead and neck SCCCEA, SSC-AgRecurrent/metastatic SSC which progressed during/after platinum-based chemotherapy Pembrolizumab
Breast Breast cancerBRCA1, BRCA2, CA 15-3, CA27.29, ER positive, PR positive, HER2/neuHER2/neu positive Trastuzumab
Unresectable locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative, PD-L1-positive breast cancerAtezolizumab
GastrointestinalSCC of the EsophagusCEA, CA 19-9, SSC-AgLocally advanced or metastatic SSC, that progressed after treatment with one or more lines of standard therapyPembrolizumab
Gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancerCEA, CA 19-9, CA 72-4, DPDAdvanced cancer, that progressed despite two or more lines of standard treatmentPembrolizumab
Gastric cancerCEA, CA 19-9, CA 72-4, DPDAdvanced cancerNivolumab (only approved in Japan)
Pancreatic cancerCA 19-9, DPD, CEA: Not frequently usedAdvanced cancer with high microsatellite instability or high tumor mutational burden Pembrolizumab
Colorectal cancer CEA, KRAS, BRAF V600, CA 19-9: Not frequently used, DPD, MSU, dMMRProgressive CRC after Fluoropyrimidine Oxaliplatin and irinotecan treatment regimenPembrolizumab
HematologicalCLLBeta-2-microglobulin, chromosome 17p deletionRelapsed CLL, in combination with Fludrabine and cyclophosphamideOfatumumab
Combination with ChlorambucilObinutuzumab
B-cell precursor ALLBCR-ABLRelapsed/refractory Ph-negative B-cell Precursor ALLBlinatumomab
Follicular lymphoma Beta-2-microglobulinRelapse/refractoryObinutuzumab
Hodgkin’s lymphomaCD20Non-responsive to therapy or relapse after > 3 therapiesPembrolizumab
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomaCD20Relapsed/progressing after autologous Hematopoietic stem cell transfer + Brentuximab Vedotrin or after 3 systemic therapiesNivolumab
Multiple myeloma Beta-2-microglobulin, immunoglobulins(1) Initial treatment in combination with dexamethasone, in patients eligible for autologous HSCT and maintenance therapy after autologous HSCT; (2) After > 3 therapies or non-responsive to proteasome inhibitor and immunomodulatory drug; (3) Combination with lenalidomide + dexamethasone or bortezomib + dexamethasone after > 1 therapy; And (4) Combination with revlimid + dexamethasone after 1-3 therapies (1) Linalidomide; (2) Daratumab; (3) Daratumab; And (4) Elotuzumab
RespiratoryNSCLCALK gene, BRAF V600, KRAS, PD-L1, ROS1Metastatic cancer expressing PD-L1 and progressing during/after platinum-based chemotherapy or with EGFR or ALK mutationsPembrolizumab
In combination with pemetrexed and carboplatin, with or without PD-L1 expressionPembrolizumab
Progressing during/after platinum-based chemotherapyNivolumab
Progressing cancer while using approved therapy for the mutation in metastatic cancer expressing PD-L1 and progressing during/after platinum-based chemotherapy or with EGFR or ALK mutationsAtezolizumab
Squamous NSCLCFirst line in combination with gemcitabine + cisplatinNecitumumab
RenalRenal cell carcinoma Advanced RCC after antiangiogenic therapyNivolumab
SkinMelanomaBRAF V600Unresectable cutaneous, subcutaneous or nodular lesions in relapsing melanoma after surgical resection Talimogene Iaherparepvec (vaccine)
Unresectable/metastatic Pembrolizumab
Unresectable/metastatic without BRAFV600 mutationNivolumab, Ipilimumab
Adjuvant therapy for stage IIIIpilimumab
Urinary Bladder cancer Bladder tumor antigen, chromosome 3, 7, 17, 9p21 mutation, FGFR2, FGFR3 mutationLocally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, progressed during/after platinum-based chemotherapy or within 12 mo neoadjuvant/adjuvant treatment Avelumab, Durvalumab, Pembrolizumab, Nivolumab, Atezolizumab
Locally advanced or metastatic cancer with patient ineligible for platinum-based chemotherapyPembrolizumab, Atezolizumab
Table 2 Overview of some of the common immunotherapeutic agents and their proposed mechanisms
Mechanism of action
IpilimumabCTLA-4 inhibitor
NivolumabPD-1 inhibitor
PembrolizumabPD-1 inhibitor
AtezolizumabPD-L1 inhibitor
AvelumabPD-L1 inhibitor
DurvalumabPD-L1 inhibitor
Talimogene IaherparepvecCancer vaccine (directly destroys cancer cells, upregulates production of GM-CSF)
NecitumumabEGFR inhibitor
BevacizumabVEGF inhibitor
Elotuzumab (anti-SLAMF7 monoclonal antibody)Anti-SLAMF7 monoclonal antibody
Daratumumab (anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody)Anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody
LenalidomideImmunomodulatory agent
ObinutuzumabCD20 inhibitor
OfatumumabCD20 inhibitor
BlinatumomabBispecific T-cell engager
TrastuzumabHER2/neu inhibitor
DinutuximabGD2-binding monoclonal antibody