Treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) has evolved rapidly over the last two decades as major pathways involved in pathogenesis have been elucidated. These include the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) axis and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Therapies targeting the VEGF pathway include bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib, pazopanib, and axitinib, whereas temsirolimus and everolimus inhibit the mTOR pathway. All of these novel therapies—VEGF and mTOR inhibitors—are associated with a variety of unique toxicities, some of which may necessitate expert medical management, treatment interruption, or dose reduction. Common adverse events with newer drugs include hypertension, skin reactions, gastrointestinal disturbances, thyroid dysfunction, and fatigue. Skilled management of these toxicities is vital to ensure optimal therapeutic dosing and maximize patient outcomes, including improved survival and quality of life. This review describes and compares the toxicity profiles of novel molecularly targeted agents used in the treatment of mRCC and presents guidance on how best to prevent and manage treatment-related toxicities. Particular attention is given to axitinib, the newest agent to enter the armamentarium. Axitinib is a second-generation receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with potent VEGF receptor inhibition that provides durable responses and superior progression-free survival in advanced RCC compared with sorafenib.
Keywords: Axitinib, Renal cell carcinoma, Tyrosine kinase inhibitor, Toxicity, Adverse events