Study data presented at the American Society of Clinical Society annual meeting reveal that antibiotics greatly reduce the efficacy of immunotherapy, The Guardian reported.
"Clearly, we need to treat serious or life threatening infections with antibiotics," remarked study author Nadina Tinsley, adding "the challenge is striking the right balance."
In the study, the researchers retrospectively examined outcomes for 303 patients with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer or renal cancer who underwent treatment with checkpoint inhibitors, about a third of whom also received antibiotics around the time of treatment.
The investigators observed that the median time to progression was 178 days among people who did not receive antibiotics, compared to 97 days for those to antibiotics, while overall survival among people who used antibiotics was 317 days, versus 651 days for those who were not exposed to the drugs.
The research team further found that patients who received multiple courses of antibiotics had progression-free survival and overall survival times of 87 days and 197 days, respectively.
"It's potentially quite a big, big problem," noted study author Matthew Krebs, continuing "sometimes they are for a genuine infection but other people get antibiotics unnecessarily. The patient might just have had a temperature but this is [affecting] their [cancer] outcome."
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