Practice-Changing Results From ASCO 2015: Immunotherapy in Previously Treated Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

“Immunotherapy wasn’t merely the big story of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 meeting; it was the tornado that left a vacuum in its wake, as some of us discussed—the unfortunate side effect of everything that wasn’t immunotherapy being swept aside as last year’s model of quaint anticancer therapy.

“In the world of lung cancer, at least, immunotherapy trials delivered data that merited real excitement. We saw truly practice-changing results that provided a glimpse of a new era in which we might expect lung cancer treatments to be transformed by integrating immunotherapy across many settings. For now, that will start with previously treated advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and we will also see where immunotherapy is heading next.”


Adding Atezolizumab to Chemotherapy Shows Promise in NSCLC

“The anti–PD-L1 agent atezolizumab (MPDL3280A) was recently investigated for safety and efficacy in combination with platinum-based doublet chemotherapy in treatment-naïve patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Results from the phase Ib study were presented at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting.

“The multiple-arm study looked at MPDL3280A with a different chemotherapy backbone in each arm: carboplatin plus paclitaxel (Arm C; n = 8) carboplatin plus pemetrexed (Arm D; n = 14) or carboplatin plus nab-paclitaxel (Arm E; n = 15).

“Across all arms, the overall response rate (ORR) was 67% (48%-82%), with 60% ORR (19%-92%) in Arm C (3 partial responses [PRs]), 75% (45%-93%) in Arm D (9 PRs), and 62% (33%-83%) in Arm E (6 PRs, 2 complete responses).

“Regarding the safety profile, the researchers concluded that the combination regimens were well tolerated. The most frequent all-grade adverse events included those commonly associated with chemotherapy, such as nausea (Arms C and D, 50%; Arm E, 73%), fatigue (Arm C, 38%; Arm D, 36%; Arm E, 73%) and constipation (Arm C, 25%; Arm D, 71%; Arm E, 27%).

“OncLive spoke with Stephen Liu, MD, lead author on the study and assistant professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Georgetown University, to better understand the results and purpose of the uniquely designed trial, and how oncologists may need to rethink trial design when investigating similar novel agents.”


Top Takeaways from ASCO: Melanoma

“The results of a phase 3 trial presented during the Plenary Session at the ASCO Annual Meeting comparing combination nivolumab-ipilimumab treatment to nivolumab alone and ipilimumab alone was one of the most pivotal presentations on melanoma at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting.

“A second key melanoma study examined survival of patients undergoing SLNB who did or did not receive CLND. Several physicians shared their insights on the Top Takeaways from these findings with Healio.com.

“Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics service and the Lloyd J. Old Chair for Clinical Investigation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a HemOnc Today Editorial Board member, presented the results of the CheckMate 067 study during the Plenary Session that compared the use of nivolumab alone to ipilimumab alone as well as to nivolumab plus ipilimumab. Nivolumab is a programmed death 1 (PD-1) checkpoint inhibitor and ipilimumab is a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) checkpoint inhibitor.

“ ‘The most important data that came out — which is very clear — is that there’s no doubt now in anyone’s mind that anti-PD-1 beats anti-CTLA-4. Whether its nivolumab or pembrolizumab, it’s better than giving ipilimumab front-line,’ Sanjiv S. Agarwala, MD, chief of oncology and hematology at St. Luke’s Cancer Center, professor at Temple University School of Medicine and a HemOnc Today Editorial Board member, told Healio.com. Pembrolizumab is another anti-PD-1 immunotherapy indicated for melanoma.”


Breast Cancer Trial Results Spin a Cautionary Tale

“In the care of patients with metastatic breast cancer, the next new thing is the same old thing: paclitaxel (multiple brands).

“Results of the CALGB 40502/NCCTG N063H (Alliance) trial, first reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in 2012 and published online June 8 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, show that patients with advanced breast cancer had better median progression-free survival (PFS) with once-weekly paclitaxel than with ixabepilone (Ixempra, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company), a newer agent.

“In the third arm of the trial, paclitaxel was equivalent in its effect on PFS to its newer, more water-soluble cousin, nanoparticle alubimun-bound paclitaxel (nab-paclitaxel), and plain old paclitaxel was less toxic than either of its comparators.”


ASCO 2015: Notable Reports on Prostate Cancer Treatment


This year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting was short on any truly exciting developments in prostate cancer treatment. In stark contrast to other cancers, such as lung, breast, kidney, and melanoma, there were no reports of note on targeted and immunotherapies in prostate cancer. The two presentations summarized here offered new strategies in chemotherapy. Continue reading…


TDM-1 Better Than Trastuzumab in HER2-, HR-Positive Breast Cancer

“Results from a phase II trial showed that neoadjuvant TDM-1 is effective in treating HER2-positive, hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer, with or without endocrine therapy, in comparison with trastuzumab and endocrine therapy. Results of the study (abstract 506) were presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting held May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.

“The WSG-ADAPT trial is an umbrella trial that included around 5,000 patients. This sub-study of that trial included patients with HER2-positive, HR-positive early breast cancer; it enrolled 376 patients at 48 sites, and this interim analysis included 130 of those patients. The trial has been closed early because efficacy was reached.

“The patients were randomized to receive either TDM-1 monotherapy (37 patients), TDM-1 with endocrine therapy (48 patients), or trastuzumab with endocrine therapy (45 patients). ‘This was not a low-risk population,’ said study presenter Nadia Harbeck, MD, PhD, of the University of Munich, noting that over half of the patients were premenopausal and about half had tumors that were larger than 2 cm.”


ASCO Highlight: Another Treatment Option for ER-Positive Breast Cancer


Earlier this year, a new treatment option was added to the arsenal for ER-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of letrozole (Femara) and palbociclib (Ibrance). Continue reading…


Alectinib Promising in ALK-Positive Advanced NSCLC

“The ALK and RET inhibitor alectinib yielded good response rates and was very well tolerated in a phase II trial of patients with advanced, ALK-positive non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC; abstract 8008). Results were presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, held May 29 to June 2, in Chicago.

“Crizotinib is currently the standard-of-care for advanced, treatment-naive ALK-positive NSCLC. ‘However, the median progression-free survival (PFS) for these patients on crizotinib is under 12 months,’ said Sai-Hong Ignatius Ou, MD, PhD, of the UC Irvine Medical Center in California. ‘This is in part due to development of ALK mutations that are resistant to crizotinib.’

“Alectinib is a next-generation inhibitor that is highly selective for ALK and RET; as an ALK inhibitor, Ou said, it is approximately five times as potent as crizotinib. It can inhibit the majority of clinically relevant acquired ALK mutations.”


Denosumab Reduces Clinical Fracture Risk in Postmenopausal Women Receiving Aromatase Inhibitors

“In a phase III trial (ABCSG-18) reported in The Lancet, Gnant et al found that adjuvant denosumab (Xgeva) reduced the risk of clinical fracture in women with breast cancer receiving aromatase inhibitor therapy.

“In the double-blind study, 3,420 women from Austria and Sweden with early hormone receptor–positive breast cancer receiving aromatase inhibitors were randomized between December 2006 and July 2013 to receive subcutaneous denosumab 60 mg (n = 1,711) or placebo (n = 1,709) every 6 months.

“The primary endpoint was time to first clinical fracture on intention-to-treat analysis. Patients were treated until the prespecified number of 247 first clinical fractures was reached.

“Patients had a median age of 64 years. At baseline, 55% had normal total lumbar spine bone mineral density (T score ≥ –1.0), and the remainder had T scores lower than –1.0. Overall, 16% of patients started aromatase inhibitor therapy at the time of randomization, with the remainder having been on treatment for a median of 1 month prior to randomization. In total, 25% of patients had also received (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy.”