Abscopal Effect of Radiotherapy in the Immunotherapy Era: Systematic Review of Reported Cases

Dagoglu N., Karaman S., Caglar H. B. , Oral E. N.

CUREUS, vol.11, no.2, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.7759/cureus.4103
  • Journal Name: CUREUS
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index, Directory of Open Access Journals


Mounting evidence suggests that radiation stimulates the immune system and this contributes to the abscopal effect, which is defined as "response at a distance from the irradiated volume." Though identified more than 50 years ago, the abscopal effect is revisited today. One rationale is that the abscopal effect is often observed with efficient immunotherapy. Here, we give an overview of the clinical data on the abscopal effect, generated by a combination of immunotherapy and radiotherapy (RT). Only papers that included RT in combination with immunotherapy were evaluated according to four main categories including RT parameters, sequencing of therapies, the definition of the abscopal effect, and patient selection. Twenty-four cases in 15 reports were reviewed. The results varied. Patient ages ranged from 24 to 74. RT dose (median total dose 18-58 Gy) varied. Biologically effective dose (BED) 10 was calculated to be a median 49.65 Gy (28-151 Gy). The time to a documented abscopal response ranged from less than a month to 12 months. The large variation concerning fractionation and sequencing of therapies indicates that these conflicting points need to be resolved, to generate for the abscopal effect to be clinically significant.