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Candice Baldeo, Tasneem Kaleem, Ricardo Paz-Fumagalli, John Copland and Michael Menefee

Introduction: Individuals receiving systemic anticancer therapies for advanced solid tumors routinely undergo imaging studies to assess the efficacy of the treatment. Mixed response (MR) to cancer therapy is a common but poorly described phenomenon. There is a paucity of data regarding both the incidence and possible mechanisms of this clinical quandary. Potential etiologies include tumor heterogeneity, differences in tumor microenvironment, and discrepancies in drug delivery to different tumor deposits. It is also possible that MR simply reflects differences in the rate of resistance emerging. MR represents a therapeutic dilemma for the clinician. Methods: Mixed tumor response was defined as: One tumor decreasing in size; one tumor increasing in size (classified as RECIST response/progressions), One tumor stable; another tumor progressing, One tumor stable; another tumor responding, New tumor; another tumor responding or remaining stable. Between 2015 and 2017, 120 restaging CT scans were reviewed of patients who had received at least 1 line of therapy for advanced cancer diagnosis which showed MR; hematologic malignancies were excluded. Charts were reviewed to determine the clinical decision that was made at the time of the MR. Results: A total of 120 scans with MR were reviewed from various solid tumor diagnoses. 38 scans were excluded due to loss of follow-up or death. Of the remaining 82 scans, therapy was switched in 30, the same therapy was continued in 50, and an additional agent was added to the current treatment in 2 cases (). Of the patients in which treatment was switched, 20% (6/30) showed response to treatment on the following scan. Of the cases that were kept on current treatment, none showed response on the following restaging scan which was done 6–8 weeks later. There were 4 (10%) deaths prior to the next scan in the group that had treatment switched and similarly 5 deaths (10%) prior to the next scan in the group in which treatment remained the same. Conclusion: MR is associated with a poor prognosis, irrespective of treatment decisions. These data are retrospective and our sample size is small, so definitive conclusions cannot be drawn. However, changing therapy when a MR is observed may be of benefit to some patients. A prospective evaluation to more accurately describe and understand the MR phenomenon is warranted.