UK Study Shows Promise of Nivolumab Treatment for Relapsed Mesothelioma

Despite the best efforts of researchers and physicians around the world, malignant mesothelioma remains a fatal disease. Still, scientific breakthroughs have extended survival time for many patients, and the introduction of each new protocol has offered hope. A study published last week in The Lancet has shown that treating relapsed mesothelioma with the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor antibody known as nivolumab offers an extension of both progression-free survival and of overall survival in patients diagnosed with either pleural or peritoneal forms of the rare, asbestos-related form of cancer.

Phase 3 Mesothelioma Trial is First to Show Improved Survival 

Most mesothelioma patients are treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, and whether it is combined with radiation and/or surgery, there is an expectation that after a certain period of time their cancer will return. Up until now there had been no tests yielding improved survival in any of these patients after relapse, which is what makes this study’s results so notable.

The researchers recruited 332 mesothelioma patients between May 10, 2017 and March 30, 2020 and randomly assigned 221 of them to receive nivolumab and 111 to receive a placebo. The patients had either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, had received at least one course of platinum-based chemotherapy, and had since been confirmed with disease progression. Median survival with no additional treatment was expected to be approximately six months.

Follow Up Reveals Extended Mesothelioma Survival with Minimal Adverse Effects

Follow up was performed for most of the mesothelioma patients at approximately 11.6 months after the nivolumab or placebo treatments were administered. While those who received the nivolumab treatment had a median progression-free survival of 3.0 months, those who received the placebo experienced a median progression-free survival of 1.8 months.  The nivolumab group had a median overall survival time of 10.2 months while those in the placebo group had a median overall survival time of 6.9 moths.  Though there were some adverse events, including diarrhea and infusion-related reaction, serious adverse events occurred in more of the placebo group than in the nivolumab group, and there were no treatment-related deaths in either group.

As researchers continue to work towards improved survival and quality of life, the Patient Advocates at are working to provide asbestos exposure victims with the resources they need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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