Recent developments in cancer therapeutics have improved outcomes but have also been associated with cardiovascular complications. Therapies harnessing the immune system have been associated with an immune-mediated myocardial injury described as myocarditis. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are one such therapy with an increasing number of case and cohort reports describing a clinical syndrome of immune checkpoint inhibitor–associated myocarditis. Although the full spectrum of immune checkpoint inhibitor–associated cardiovascular disease still needs to be fully defined, described cases of myocarditis range from syndromes with mild signs and symptoms to fatal events. These observations in the clinical setting stand in contrast to outcomes from randomized clinical trials in which myocarditis is a rare event that is investigator reported and lacking in a specific case definition. The complexities associated with diagnosis, as well as the heterogeneous clinical presentation of immune checkpoint inhibitor–associated myocarditis, have made ascertainment and identification of myocarditis with high specificity challenging in clinical trials and other data sets, limiting the ability to better understand the incidence, outcomes, and predictors of these rare events. Therefore, establishing a uniform definition of myocarditis for application in clinical trials of cancer immunotherapies will enable greater understanding of these events. We propose an operational definition of cancer therapy-associated myocarditis that may facilitate case ascertainment and report and therefore may enhance the understanding of the incidence, outcomes, and risk factors of this novel clinical syndrome.
© 2019 American Heart Association, Inc.