Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma generally receive a chemotherapy cocktail of pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin as a first line of treatment. If they are considered good candidates they may also have surgery and/or radiation therapy and then they are followed and maintained on various treatments designed to hold back the disease’s return. Second line of treatment is not as clear cut, as few protocols have proven effective. But this week research presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer World Conference on Lung Cancer showed nivolumab monotherapy to be an effective treatment for relapsed mesothelioma, providing improved overall survival.
When Mesothelioma Returns, Nivolumab Helps
The news of the successful use of nivolumab in treating relapsed mesothelioma was delivered by Professor Dean Fennell, chair of Thoracic Medical Oncology at the University of Leicester in collaboration with Professor Gareth Griffiths and his team at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Their study, the Checkpoint Blockade for Inhibition of Relapsed Mesothelioma (CONFIRM), was funded by Cancer Research UK/Stand Up to Cancer.
The nivolumab/mesothelioma study was a randomized phase III trial that included patients being treated in 24 centers throughout the United Kingdom. It is the first phase III trial that has shown improvement in overall survival after first-line chemotherapy treatment.
Trial Assessed Nivolumab in Both Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma
The research investigated the use of nivolumab in a total of 332 patients diagnosed with either malignant pleural mesothelioma or malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. They were randomly assigned to either nivolumab or a placebo and separated by whether their cancer was diagnosed as epithelioid or non-epithelioid.
Though it is deemed too soon to gauge overall survival results, it is already apparent that the nivolumab delivered longer survival, with a median of 9.2 months with the treatment vs 6.6 months without. Progression-free survival was also longer with nivolumab, measured at 3.0 vs 1.8 months for the placebo. The team concluded that nivolumab “should be considered for the new standard of care for these patients.”
Though mesothelioma is still considered a fatal disease, progress is being made in its treatment. For more information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.