Radiation Induced Abscopal Effect in a Patient With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on Pembrolizumab

Cureus 2022 February 12 [Link]

Rebekah Rittberg, Elisa Chan, Stephen Yip, Deepu Alex, Cheryl Ho


Abscopal effect is a rare phenomenon in which treatment benefit from radiotherapy (RT) is seen outside the target field due to activation of the immune system inducing an anti-tumor effect. This phenomenon has been reported in cancer patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). Here we report a case of presumed abscopal effect in malignant mesothelioma. The patient received second-line single-agent pembrolizumab however had disease progression after four cycles leading to palliative RT (20 Gray) to the right mainstem bronchus. Follow-up radiographic imaging confirmed benefit and pembrolizumab was continued. Follow-up computed tomography (CT) five months after RT, showed marked radiographic improvement of all measurable diseases with improvement in right-sided aerated lung volume. Because of the original disease progression on pembrolizumab, with marked improvements within and outside the RT field after RT, treatment response was presumed due to the abscopal effect.