Adoptive Immunotherapy

Number 8.01.01

Effective Date February 24, 2014

Revision Date(s) 02/10/14; 02/11/13; 02/14/12; 06/13/11; 01/13/09; 06/12/07; 06/16/06; 06/14/05; 05/11/04; 01/01/04; 04/15/03; 12/10/02; 05/19/98; 01/97

Replaces N/A


Adoptive immunotherapy, using adoptive cellular therapy for the administration of cytokine-induced killer cells, lymphokine-activated killer cells, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or antigen-loaded dendritic cells is considered investigational.

Other applications of adoptive immunotherapy are considered investigational.

Related Policies


Cellular Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Policy Guidelines

Autologous lymphocytes used as part of adoptive immunotherapy may be harvested in a pheresis procedure or may be isolated from resected tumor tissue.


The spontaneous regression of certain cancers, such as renal cell cancer or melanoma, supports the idea that a patient’s immune system can delay tumor progression and, on rare occasions, can eliminate the tumor altogether. These observations have led to research interest in a variety of immunologic therapies designed to stimulate a patient’s own immune system. Adoptive immunotherapy is a method of activating lymphocytes for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.


Adoptive immunotherapy uses “activated” lymphocytes as a treatment modality. Both non-specific and specific lymphocyte activation are used therapeutically. Non-specific, polyclonal proliferation of lymphocytes by cytokines (immune system growth factors), also called autolymphocyte therapy, increases the number of activated lymphocytes. Initially, this was done by harvesting peripheral lymphokine-activated killer cells and activating them in vitro with the Tcell growth factor interleukin-2 (IL-2) and other cytokines. More recent techniques yield select populations of lymphocytes with specific reactivity to tumor antigens. Peripheral lymphocytes are propagated in vitro with antigen-presenting dendritic cells that have been pulsed with tumor antigens. Alternatively, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from the tumor biopsy are propagated in vitro with IL-2 and anti-CD3 antibody, a Tcell activator. Expansion of TIL for clinical use is labor intensive and requires laboratory expertise. Only a few cancers are infiltrated by T cells in significant numbers; of these, TIL can be expanded in only approximately 50% of cases. These factors limit the widespread applicability of TIL treatment. Cytokine-induced killer cells have recently been recognized as a new type of anti-tumor effector cells, which can proliferate rapidly in vitro, with stronger anti-tumor activity and broader spectrum of targeted tumor than other reported anti-tumor effector cells. (1)

The spontaneous regression of certain cancers, such as renal cell cancer or melanoma, supports the idea that a patient’s immune system can delay tumor progression and, on rare occasions, can eliminate the tumor altogether. These observations led to research interest in a variety of immunologic therapies designed to stimulate a patient’s own immune system. The major research challenge in adoptive immunotherapy is to develop immune cells with anti-tumor reactivity in quantities sufficient for transfer to tumor-bearing patients. In current trials, two methods are studied: adoptive cellular therapy (ACT) and antigen-loaded dendritic cell infusions.

ACT is “the administration of a patient’s own (autologous) or donor (allogeneic) anti-tumor lymphocytes following a lymphodepleting preparative regimen.” (2) Protocols vary, but include these common steps:

  1. Lymphocyte harvesting (either from peripheral blood or from tumor biopsy)
  2. Propagation of tumor -specific lymphocytes in vitro using various immune modulators
  3. Selection of lymphocytes with reactivity to tumor antigens with ELISA
  4. Lymphodepletion of the host with immunosuppressive agents
  5. Adoptive transfer (i.e., transfusion) of lymphocytes back into the tumor-bearing host

Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy uses autologous dendritic cells (ADC) to activate a lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxic response against specific antigens in vivo. ADCs harvested from the patient are either pulsed with antigen or transfected with a viral vector bearing a common cancer antigen. The activated ADCs are then transfused back into the patient, where they present antigen to effector lymphocytes (CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and in some cases, B cells). This initiates a cytotoxic response against the antigen and against any cell expressing the antigen. In cancer immunotherapy, ADCs are pulsed with tumor antigens; effector lymphocytes then mount a cytotoxic response against tumor cells expressing these antigens. (Note: See Related Policies section for dendritic cell-based immunotherapy for prostate cancer.)

In an attempt to further regulate the host immune system, recent protocols use various cytokines (e.g., IL-7 and IL-15 instead of IL-2) to propagate lymphocytes. Protocols also differ in the extent of host lymphodepletion induced prior to transfusing the lymphocytes to the tumor-bearing host.

Note: Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation following nonmyeloablative conditioning of the recipient (known as reduced-intensity conditioning [RIC]) may also be referred to as “adoptive immunotherapy” in the literature. However, RIC stem-cell transplantation relies on a donor-versus-malignancy effect of donor lymphocytes, while the adoptive immunotherapy techniques described in this policy enhance autoimmune effects primarily. The use of RIC in stem-cell transplantation is discussed for specific cancers in individual policies related to stem-cell transplantation.


Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. This medical policy does not apply to Medicare Advantage.

Benefit Application



This policy was originally created in 1996 and has been updated regularly with searches of the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature search was performed for the period of October 2012 through November 8, 2013. Following is the summary of the key literature to date.

Systematic Reviews

Three systematic reviews have been published on adoptive immunotherapy that included different adoptive immunotherapy methods. Conditions treated in these reviews were renal cell carcinoma,(3) and postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma.(4,5)

In 2013, Tang et al published a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to investigate the efficacy of adoptive immunotherapy in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (3) Four RCTs (3 studies published between 1990 and 1999, and the fourth study by Liu in 2012 below) including 469 patients met all selection criteria; 3 were U.S. studies and 1 was conducted in China. The interventions used across studies included a combination of cytokine-induced killer cells (CIK) cells, lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). Most of adoptive immunotherapy-related adverse reactions were grade 1 or 2 and reversible. On combined analysis, the main outcome measures were superior for patients treated with adoptive immunotherapy, including rates of objective response (risk ratios [RR], 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15 to 2.38; p=0.007), 1-year survival (RR=1.30; 95% CI: 1.12 to 1.52; p=0.0008), 3-year survival (RR=2.76; 95% CI: 1.85 to 4.14; p<0.001), and 5-year survival (RR=2.42; 95% CI: 1.21 to 4.83; p=0.01). Heterogeneity among individual studies across these measures was acceptable. (3) However, the limitations of this review included use of different protocols for adoptive immunotherapy across studies and lack of clearly reporting the randomization method, allocation concealment, blinding or withdrawals which may lead to distribution and implementation bias in this meta-analysis.

Xie et al performed a meta-analysis of RCTs comparing adoptive immunotherapy with no adjuvant treatment in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who had undergone curative resection. (4) Six RCTs (published between 1995 and 2009) including 494 patients met the selection criteria. All 6 trials were conducted in Asia (4 in China, and 2 in Japan) with 2 studies published in the Chinese language. Two trials used CIK cells as adoptive immunotherapy, one used CIK plus interleukin-2 (IL-2), and the remaining 3 used LAK plus IL-2. The outcome measures were 1- and 3-year recurrence and survival rates. The overall analysis revealed a significantly reduced risk of both 1-year recurrence (odds ratio [OR], 0.35; 95% CI: 0.17 to 0.71; p=0.003), and of 3-year recurrence (OR=0.31; 95% CI: 0.16 to 0.61; p=0.001) in patients receiving adoptive immunotherapy. However, no statistically significant difference was observed in 3-year survival rates between the 2 study groups (OR=0.91; 95% CI: 0.45 to 1.84; p=0.792). It is difficult to reach any conclusions regarding the results of this meta-analysis given the treatment context of the studies, variation in immunotherapy regimens, limited sample size and follow-up period, and the low-to-moderate methodologic quality of the included trials.(4)

Zhong et al also performed a systematic review of RCTs published to May 2011 to evaluate the clinical efficacy of adjuvant adoptive immunotherapy for post-operative patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. (5) Four RCTs (published between 1995 and 2009) including 423 patients met the eligibility criteria. As with the Xie meta-analysis above, (4) all 4 trials were conducted in Asia. Three (of 4) trials in this review were also included in the Xie meta-analysis. The primary outcomes evaluated in this review were overall survival (OS) rate, disease-free survival (DFS), and recurrence rates. The secondary outcome was the adverse effects of treatment/toxicity. Owing to the clinical heterogeneity (including operation methods, dose, and type of cytokines) among studies, meta-analysis was not performed. All RCTs reported significantly improved DFS rate or reduced recurrence rate after treatment with adjuvant adoptive immunotherapy (p<0.05). However, no statistically significant differences were observed in OS between the 2 study groups across the 3 studies reporting this outcome. The main adverse effect of adoptive immunotherapy was fever (persistent or transient), reported in 3 (of 4) trials. The conclusions of this systematic review (5) are subject to similar limitations as with the above meta-analysis by Xie et al.

CIK cells

Li et al conducted an RCT to evaluate the efficacy of autologous CIK transfusion used in combination with gemcitabine and cisplatin (GC) chemotherapy to treat nasopharyngeal carcinoma in patients with distant metastasis after radiotherapy. (6) From September 2007 to August 2008, 60 patients with distant metastasis after radiotherapy were followed up in a university cancer center in China. The study patients were randomly divided into 2 groups (30 patients in the GC+CIK group were treated with adoptive autologous CIK cell transfusion in combination with GC chemotherapy; 30 patients in the GC group were treated with chemotherapy alone). For the GC+CIK group, the 1- and 2-year OS rates were 90.0% (27/30) and 70% (21/30), respectively, and for the GC group, they were 83.3% (25/30) and 50% (15/30), respectively. The median progression-free survival (PFS) rates were 26 months for the GC+CIK group and 19 months for the GC group. Average survival time was close to 32 months for the GC+CIK group and 26 months for the GC group. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that the OS of the GC+CIK group was higher than that of the GC group, but the difference was not significant (log-rank test, p=0.137). However, the PFS of the GC+CIK group was significantly higher than that of the GC group (log-rank test, p=0.023). The findings of this small single-center RCT indicate that the combination of CIK cells and GC regimen chemotherapy may be a viable treatment option for patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.(6)

Liu et al conducted a prospective RCT to evaluate the effects of autologous CIK cell immunotherapy in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma followed up in another university cancer center in China. (7) From June 2005 to June 2008, 148 patients were randomized to autologous CIK cell immunotherapy (arm 1, n=74), or IL-2 treatment combination with human interferon (IFN)-alpha-2a (arm 2, n=74). The primary endpoint was OS and secondary endpoint was PFS evaluated by Kaplan-Meier analyses and treatment hazard ratios (HRs) with the Cox proportional hazards model. The 3-year PFS and OS in arm 1 were 18% and 61%, as compared with 12% and 23% in arm 2 (p=0.031 and <0.001, respectively). The median PFS and OS in arm 1 were significantly longer than those in arm 2 (PFS, 12 vs 8 months, p=0.024; OS, 46 vs 19 months, p<0.001). Multivariate analyses indicated that the cycle count of CIK cell immunotherapy as a continuous variable was significantly associated with prolonged PFS (HR=0.88; 95% CI: 0.84 to 0.93; p<0.001) and OS (HR=0.58; 95% CI: 0.48–0.69; p<0.001) in arm 1. These findings suggest that CIK cell immunotherapy has the potential to improve the prognosis of metastatic renal cell carcinoma, and increased frequency of this immunotherapy could result in additional benefits. (6)

Section Summary

Several RCTs from Asia have evaluated the efficacy of CIK in different cancer types. These studies have generally reported some benefits in recurrence rates and/or DFS, however, there has not been a definite benefit reported in OS. This body of evidence is limited by the context of the studies (non-U.S.), the small sample sizes, the heterogeneity of treatment groups, and by other methodologic weaknesses. This evidence is insufficient to determine whether use of CIK in any specific cancer type leads to health outcome benefits.

LAK cells

Khammari et al studied tumor-specific T cells derived from peripheral blood in a Phase II trial. (9) Lymphocytes were harvested from 14 melanoma patients with regional or distant metastases. The cells were propagated with Melan-A/MART-1, the antigen most commonly expressed by melanoma tumors, and then reinfused with IL-2 and IFN-α. Six patients (43%) experienced an objective response: 2 patients with regional metastases had complete responses, one lasting 20 months and the other lasting more than 60 months; 4 patients with regional metastases had partial responses; and one patient with distant metastases had a partial response. Significant toxicities of treatment included asthenia, flu-like syndrome, and lymphopenia, which were attributed mainly to treatment with IL-2 and IFN-α.

Chang et al reported on the results of another Phase II trial in patients with stage IV renal cell cancer who received irradiated autologous tumor cells admixed with Calmette-Guérin bacillus. (10) Seven days later, vaccine-primed lymph nodes were harvested, and the lymphoid cells secondarily activated and then infused back into the patient. Of the 39 patients who participated in the trial, there were 4 complete responses and 5 partial responses.

Kobari et al described the use of intraportal injections of LAK cells after tumor resection in 12 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and compared their outcomes to a group of 17 patients who did not receive LAK cells postresection.(11) OS between the 2 groups did not differ.

LAK cells have also been investigated as a treatment of malignant glioma and bladder cancer, but no controlled trials have been published.(12-14)

Takayama et al conducted a study that randomized 150 patients who had undergone a curative resection for hepatocellular carcinoma to receive either adjuvant adoptive immunotherapy or no additional treatment. (15) The immunotherapy consisted of 5 injections over 24 weeks of autologous T cells, harvested from the peripheral blood and cultured for 2 weeks with IL-2. The immunotherapy group had significantly longer recurrence-free survival and disease-specific survival, but OS, the final health outcome, did not differ significantly between the two groups.

A 1993 randomized trial of LAK cell therapy in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer or melanoma unresponsive to standard therapy failed to show that the use of LAK cells provided any health benefit beyond that associated with IL-2 alone. (16) A 2007 post-hoc analysis of this study found survival benefit in stage III melanoma with one tumor-invaded lymph node; however, this study has not been reproduced.

Section Summary

There is limited evidence on the use of LAK cells for adoptive immunotherapy. Small RCTs have reported benefit on some outcomes, but not on others, and a survival benefit has not been demonstrated. This body of evidence is insufficient to determine whether LAK cells improve outcomes for any specific cancer type.

Tumor-infiltrating Lymphocytes

Rosenberg et al investigated the ability of adoptive cell transfer utilizing autologous TIL to mediate durable complete regressions in heavily pretreated patients with metastatic melanoma. (17) Ninety-three patients with metastatic melanoma, in 3 clinical trials, were treated with the adoptive transfer of autologous TILs administered in conjunction with IL-2 following a lymphodepleting preparative regimen (chemotherapy with or without radiation). Ninety-five percent of the patients had progressive disease following a prior systemic treatment. Median follow-up was 62 months. Objective response rates by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) in the 3 trials were 49%, 52%, and 72%, respectively. Twenty of the 93 patients (22%) achieved complete tumor regression, and 19 have ongoing complete regressions beyond 3 years. Actuarial 3- and 5-year survival rates for the entire group were 36% and 29%, respectively, but for the 20 complete responders were 100% and 93%. The likelihood of achieving a complete response was similar regardless of prior therapy.

Dudley et al (18) conducted a series of Phase II trials examining the administration of TIL and IL-2 to patients with metastatic melanoma under various conditions of pre-infusion lymphodepletion. A nonmyeloablative 7-day chemotherapy regimen (n=43) was compared to ablative regimens of 5-day chemotherapy plus either 200 cGy (n=25) or 1,200 cGy (n=25) total -body irradiation. Objective response rates were 49%, 52%, and 72%, respectively, and did not differ significantly among groups. Responses occurred at multiple metastatic sites, including brain, and many were durable; the 10 patients who achieved a complete response had no relapse at a median follow-up of 31 months. Toxicities of treatment occurred primarily in the 1,200 cGy group and included a delay in marrow recovery of 1- to 2-days compared to the other treatment groups, intubation for somnolence, renal insufficiency, and posterior uveitis.

Dreno et al reported on the results of a trial that randomized 88 patients with malignant melanoma without detectable metastases to receive TIL and IL-2 versus IL-2 alone. (19) There was no significant difference in the duration of the relapse-free interval or OS. Figlin et al reported the results of a study that randomized 178 patients with metastatic renal cell cancer and resectable renal tumors to receive adjunctive continuous low-dose IL-2 therapy, with or without additional TIL. (20) The TILs were harvested from the surgical specimens. The outcomes were similar in both groups, and for this reason the study was terminated early.

Dendritic cells

Antigen-loaded dendritic cells (ADCs) have been explored primarily through early-stage trials in various malignancies including lymphoma, (21) myeloma, (22,23) subcutaneous tumors, (24) melanoma,(25) non-small-cell lung cancer,(26,27) renal cell cancer, (28) and uterine cervical cancer (29). A 2012 review article highlights recent progress on dendritic cell-based immunotherapy in epithelial ovarian cancer.(30)

In 2013, Bregy et al published a systematic review of observational studies of active immunotherapy using autologous dendritic cells in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme. (31) A total of 21 studies published through early 2013 including 403 patients were included in this review. Vaccination with dendritic cells loaded with autologous tumor cells resulted in increased median OS in patients with recurrent disease (72-138 weeks across 8 studies), as well as those newly diagnosed (65-230 weeks across 11 studies) compared to average survival of 58 weeks. Complications in the treated patients and safety of the vaccine were assessed in all studies. No study indicated any sign of autoimmune reaction. The majority of side effects analyzed fall under injection site reactions (22%); the most common symptoms included fatigue (19.5%), constipation/diarrhea (1.6%), myalgia/malaise (1.6%), shivering (1.4%) and vomiting (0.5%). Because of the nature of the current literature available, the studies reviewed are subject to publication bias and selection bias, which has the potential to lessen or amplify the true potential of adoptive immunotherapy.(31) Larger controlled trials are required to assess survival and the effect on quality of life of adoptive immunotherapy in this patient population.

Shi et al conducted a randomized study within a university cancer center in China to evaluate the role of dendritic cell (DC)/CIK combination immunotherapy as maintenance treatment of advanced non-small- cell lung cancer. (26) From October 2008 to June 2010, 60 patients with stage IIIB and IV disease after treatment with 4 cycles of a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group was treated with DC and CIK cell therapy (n=30), and the other was taken as a control group with no adoptive immunotherapy (n=30). The outcome measures were PFS and the adverse effects of treatment/toxicity. PFS was reported to be prolonged in the DC/CIK group (3.20 months; 95% CI: 2.94-3.50) compared to the control group (2.56 months; 95% CI: 2.39-2.73; p<0.05). No significant toxic reactions were observed in the DC/CIK group, including bone marrow toxicity and gastrointestinal reactions. The findings of this small single-center RCT indicate that combination immunotherapy with dendritic cells and CIK cells may offer a viable option as maintenance therapy for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. (24)

Ten patients with metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) were enrolled in a Phase I pilot study (28) and treated with ADCs pulsed with allogeneic MTC tumor cell lysate. After a median follow-up of 11 months, 3 patients (30%) had stable disease and 7 patients (70%) progressed. No World Health Organization grade 3 or 4 toxicities or autoimmune reactions were observed. Of note, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) match between patients and tumor cell lines did not predict disease stabilization or progression, suggesting that, should future studies demonstrate efficacy of ADC therapy of MTC using allogeneic tumor lysate, an unlimited source of tumor material would be available for lysate preparation.

A Phase I study of 5 patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer reinfused ADCs and LAK cells with gemcitabine; antigen priming of the ADCs was presumed to occur in vivo from apoptosis of gemcitabine-exposed tumor cells. (29) One patient had a partial response, 2 had stable disease for more than 6 months, and 2 patients had disease progression. Toxicities included grade 1 anemia and grade 2 leukocytopenia, nausea, and constipation.

T-cell Receptor Gene Therapy

Engineered T cell-based anti-tumor immunotherapy uses tumor-antigen-specific T-cell receptor (TCR) gene transfer. The 2011 review articles highlight recent progress in this field for solid and hematologic malignancies.(34,35)

In Phase II trials, Johnson et al transfected autologous peripheral lymphocytes of 36 metastatic melanoma patients with genes encoding TCRs highly reactive to melanoma/melanocyte antigens (MART-1:27-35 and gp100:154-162). (36) Nine patients (25%) experienced an objective response: 8 patients had a partial response lasting 3 months to more than 17 months, and 1 patient (in the gp100 group) had a complete response lasting more than 14 months. Treatment toxicities included erythematous rash, anterior uveitis, and hearing loss and dizziness, suggesting that these were attributable to recognition by the genetically-modified lymphocytes of normally quiescent cells expressing the targeted cancer antigens; melanocytic cells exist in the skin, eye, and the inner ear. This suggests that ideal targets for TCR gene therapy may be antigens that arise in cancers of nonessential organs (e.g., prostate, ovary, breast, and thyroid) or are not expressed on normal adult tissues (e.g., cancer-testes antigens).

Additional studies have examined TCR gene therapy in Hodgkin (37) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, (38) prostate tumors, (39) and neuroblastoma.(40)

Ongoing Clinical Trials

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Trial Database

A Phase III, open, multicentric French active trial is being performed to randomize 70 patients with stage 3 melanoma to no treatment or treatment with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes combined with IL-2. (NCT00200577) The primary outcome measure is duration of the relapse-free interval up to 5 years of follow-up; secondary outcome measures include OS and safety and toxicity of TIL/IL-2 treatment. This trial has been completed, but no results have been published since the last verified date in the clinical trials database of January 2013.


Clinical studies using adoptive immunotherapy are primarily small, early-stage investigations of novel immunologic treatments for a variety of cancers. While there is some evidence that reports a benefit for use of cytokine-induced killer cells on endpoints such as recurrence rates, an improvement in overall survival has not been demonstrated. In addition, the available studies are from non-U.S. centers in heterogenous patient populations, and have methodologic limitations that limit conclusions. The impact on patient outcomes (e.g., increased survival, improved quality of life) has yet to be clarified in large, randomized, controlled trials. Specifically, high-quality trials with adequate follow-up are needed to show that there is an advantage for the adoptive immunotherapy strategy in important endpoints for a significant cohort of cancer patients compared with standard treatments. Therefore, adoptive immunotherapy remains investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for melanoma (v 2, 2014) address melanoma vaccine but not the types of adoptive immunotherapy addressed in this policy. NCCN guidelines do not address adoptive immunotherapy for kidney cancer (v 1, 2014).(41)


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Therapeutic apheresis; for white blood cells



Unlisted procedure, vascular surgery (therapeutic leukopheresis)



Intravenous infusion, for therapy, prophylaxis, or diagnosis (specify substance or drug); initial, up to 1 hour



Intravenous infusion, for therapy, prophylaxis, or diagnosis (specify substance or drug); additional sequential infusion, up to 1 hour (List separately in addition to code for primary procedure)



Intravenous infusion, for therapy, prophylaxis, or diagnosis (specify substance or drug); concurrent infusion (List separately in addition to code for primary procedure)

ICD-9 Procedure


Injection or infusion of biological response modifier as an anti-neoplastic agent



Therapeutic plasmapheresis



Therapeutic leukopheresis



Therapeutic erythrocytapheresis



Therapeutic plateletpheresis



Administration of neuroprotective agent



Extracorporeal immunoadsorption



Application or administration of adhesion barrier substance






Other therapeutic apheresis or other injection, administration, or infusion of other therapeutic or prophylactic substance

(effective 10/01/14)


Malignant neoplasms code range

(effective 10/01/14)


Extracorporeal therapies physiological systems, pheresis, circulatory, single, leukocytes



Extracorporeal therapies physiological systems, pheresis, circulatory, multiple, leukocytes



Adoptive immunotherapy, i.e., development of specific anti-tumor reactivity (e.g., tumor infiltrating lymphocyte therapy) per course of treatment

Type of Service



Place of Service










Add to Therapy Section - New Policy


Replace policy. Policy updated; new indications


Replace policy. Policy updated; new references added. No change in policy statement.


Replace policy. Policy reviewed with CPT codes added. No change in policy statement.


Replace policy. CPT code updates only.


Replace policy. Policy updated; no change in policy statement. Additional discussion of dendritic cell therapy.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search; no change in policy statement.


Codes Updated. No other changes.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search; no change in policy statement; Scope and Disclaimer updated.


Replace policy. Policy updated; no change in policy statement. Reviewed and recommended by OAP on May 24, 2007.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search. Policy statement updated to included “adoptive cellular therapy (ACT) for the administration of lymphokine-activated killer cells (LAK) tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), or antigen-loaded dendritic cells (ADCs)” as an investigational indication. Investigational statement deleted. References added. Reviewed and recommended by OAP on August 21, 2008.


Cross Reference Update - No other changes.


Cross Reference Update - No other changes.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search; reference numbers 33–48 added; no change in policy statements. ICD-10 codes added to policy.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search; references 23 and 24 added and other references renumbered or removed. No change in policy statements.


Update Related Policies: remove 2.03.04, as it was archived.


Update Coding Section – ICD-10 codes are now effective 10/01/2014.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search; Two systematic reviews added; Primary studies added on cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells; references 1, 3-6, 24, and 27 added and other references renumbered. The wording of the policy statement under adoptive cellular therapy was changed to include cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells; however, the intent of both policy statements (i.e., investigational) is unchanged. Remove Related Policy 2.03.500 as it was archived.


Update Related Policies. Add 8.01.520.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search through November 8, 2013; references 3, 8, 27, and 31 added. No change in policy statements.

Disclaimer: This medical policy is a guide in evaluating the medical necessity of a particular service or treatment. The Company adopts policies after careful review of published peer-reviewed scientific literature, national guidelines and local standards of practice. Since medical technology is constantly changing, the Company reserves the right to review and update policies as appropriate. Member contracts differ in their benefits. Always consult the member benefit booklet or contact a member service representative to determine coverage for a specific medical service or supply. CPT codes, descriptions and materials are copyrighted by the American Medical Association (AMA).
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