There are three combination immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)–based regimens in the first-line setting for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). Currently, there is limited real-world data for clinical outcomes and toxicity in mRCC patients treated with first-line ICI-based regimens.


We performed a retrospective review of 49 mRCC patients treated with ICI-based combination regimens in the standard of care setting at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University from 2015–2020. We collected baseline data from the electronic medical record including demographic information and disease characteristics. Immune-related adverse events (irAEs) were collected from clinic notes and laboratory values. The primary clinical outcomes measured were overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and objective response rate (ORR).


The median age was 65 years, and most patients (80%) were males. The majority were White (86%) and had clear cell RCC (83%). Most patients had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status score of 0 (43%) or 1 (45%). Approximately one-half (49%) had at least three sites of distant metastatic disease. Most patients (88%) received nivolumab and ipilimumab. More than one-half (53%) of patients experienced an irAE, with 13 (27%) patients having treatment delayed and 18% discontinuing treatment for toxicity. The median OS was not reached, and the median PFS was 8.0 months per a Kaplan-Meier estimation. More than half of patients (53%) had a PFS > 6 months, and 22% had PFS > 1 year. The ORR was 33% for the entire cohort, and 7% of patients had a complete response.


We presented real-world efficacy and toxicity data for front-line ICI combination treatment regimens. The ORR and median PFS were lower in our cohort of patients compared to the available data in the clinical trial setting. This was likely because of more advanced disease in this study. Future studies should provide additional data that will allow comparisons between different ICI combination regimens for untreated mRCC.

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Author notes

Source of support: This work was supported by the Breen Foundation and National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute and the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University under award number P30CA138292. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Competing Interests

Conflict of interest: Bradley C. Carthon has a consulting/advisory role with Astellas Medivation, Pfizer, and Blue Earth Diagnostics and receives travel accommodations from Bristol-Myers Squibb. Mehmet Asim Bilen has acted as a paid consultant for and/or as a member of the advisory boards of Exelixis, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Calithera Biosciences, Genomic Health, Nektar, and Sanofi and has received grants to his institution from Xencor, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech/Roche, Seattle Genetics, Incyte, Nektar, AstraZeneca, Tricon Pharmaceuticals, Genome & Company, Advanced Accelerator Applications, Peloton Therapeutics, and Pfizer for work performed outside of the current study. The remaining authors have no disclosures.

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