First-Line Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy Significantly Improves Outcomes in Advanced NSCLC

Excerpt:

“The addition of PD-1 antibody pembrolizumab to standard first-line chemotherapy for treatment-naïve advanced non-small-cell lung cancer significantly improves response rates and progression-free survival, researchers reported at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen today.

“Pembrolizumab is a class of immunotherapeutic anti-cancer drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which target the mechanism the tumour uses to shut down the body’s immune response.”

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Pembrolizumab New Option for First Line Treatment of Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer and High PD-L1 Expression

Excerpt:
“Pembrolizumab is set to become a new option for first line treatment of patients with advanced lung cancer and high PD-L1 expression, according to the results of the phase III KEYNOTE-024 trial presented at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“‘Pembrolizumab is a PD-1 antibody approved for second line treatment of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and PD-L1 expression in their tumour cells,’ said lead author Professor Martin Reck, chief oncology physician, Department of Thoracic Oncology, Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf, Germany. ‘KEYNOTE-024 is the first phase III trial of pembrolizumab as first line treatment in patients with high PD-L1 expression, who represent 27-30% of those with advanced NSCLC.’ ”

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ESMO 2016 Press Release: Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy Prior to Surgery is Safe and Feasible in Early Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“Neoadjuvant immunotherapy with the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab is safe and feasible prior to surgery for early lung cancer, researchers reported at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen.

” ‘Until now nivolumab and the other anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 drug studies have only been reported in metastatic or advanced lung cancer,’ said lead author Dr Patrick Forde, Assistant Professor of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, US. “This was the first study of neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade in early stage lung cancer.”

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Study Characterizes Pneumonitis Risk With Immunotherapeutic Agents

Excerpt:

“Pneumonitis occurs in approximately 5% of cancer patients treated with anti–programmed death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) immunotherapy agents, according to a new analysis. The complication tends to be low grade and easily resolved, though it can worsen and result in death in rare cases.

“ ‘One of the remarkable characteristics of anti–PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies is their relatively mild toxicity profile,’ wrote study authors led by Matthew D. Hellmann, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. ‘However, immune-related adverse events can occur and may be severe.’ Pneumonitis is one such immune-related adverse event, and it accounted for several deaths in early trials of these agents.”

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Incidence of PD-1 Inhibitor–Related Pneumonitis Highest in NSCLC, Renal Cell Carcinoma

Excerpt:

“PD-1 inhibitor–related pneumonitis occurred most frequently among patients with non–small cell lung cancer or renal cell carcinoma, according to results of a meta-analysis.

“The incidence of this adverse event also appeared greater during treatment with combination therapy.

“PD-1 inhibitors — including FDA–approved nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck) — are associated with unique toxicities known as immune-related adverse events. Pneumonitis is one such adverse event that, although rare, can be serious and life threatening.”

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Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 2 of 2)


Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 2-part post on the latest research in melanoma. To learn about research into drug combinations for melanoma that may work better than single drugs, check out Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 1 of 2).

As always, the more new treatments become available in melanoma, the more new challenges arise. With eight new drugs approved for melanoma in the last five years, oncologists may sometimes face the difficult choice of what drugs to choose for a patient’s first-line treatment. Immune checkpoint drugs sometimes cause serious side effects, but progress is being made on how to treat these and also how to treat patients with pre-existing autoimmune conditions. New approaches are needed in efforts to prevent recurrence of melanomas diagnosed at earlier stages of disease progression. These and other challenges are discussed below. Continue reading…


Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 1 of 2)


New targeted and immunotherapy drugs have changed the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma from a death sentence into a disease that can potentially be managed and even cured. Nevertheless, these new drugs do not work in all patients, or they may stop working after a transient response. This post (part one of two) will describe ongoing efforts to find drug combinations with higher efficacy than single drugs and decipher the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. Continue reading…


Novel Combination Study Planned for SCLC

Excerpt:

“A phase I/II study will explore the delta-like protein 3 (DLL3)-targeted antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) with the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) alone or in combination with the CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy) for patients with relapsed extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

“AbbVie, the developer of rovalpituzumab tesirine, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company marketing nivolumab and ipilimumab announced the phase I/II study in a joint press release. As single-agents, rovalpituzumab tesirine and nivolumab have each demonstrated promising early findings for patients with SCLC. Additionally, nivolumab plus ipilimumab sparked promising response rates and overall survival (OS) findings. Data for the 3 agents were recently presented at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting.”

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Melanoma Tx Tied to Neurologic Disorder

Excerpt:

“Researchers reported two cases of demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy after treatment with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for advanced melanoma.

“The report, in a letter published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, raises concerns about serious, perhaps irreversible, and previously unknown adverse effects from this class of drug, which targets the PD-1 immune checkpoint pathway. These immunotherapies, offering a whole new way of attacking cancer, have generated excitement across the oncology community in recent years.

“The first patient was receiving treatment for recurrent nasal-cavity melanoma, and developed symptoms consistent with Guillain-Barré syndrome 8 weeks after beginning pembrolizumab therapy (2 mg/kg every 3 weeks), according to Philippe Saiag, MD, PhD, of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University in Versailles, France, and colleagues.”

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