Nivolumab improves survival in non-small cell lung carcinoma, study results suggest

Taking nivolumab for advanced non-small cell lung carcinoma is associated with a better five-year survival rate than taking docetaxel.

X-ray lung cancer

Patients treated with nivolumab for advanced non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) had a better survival rate at five years than those who received chemotherapy, a follow-up trial has shown[1]

The data included 854 patients who took part in one of two controlled trials (Checkmate 017 and Checkmate 057) where each participant was randomly assigned to nivolumab or docetaxel in a 1:1 ratio. All patients had previously received platinum-based chemotherapy.

At five years, 50 patients treated with nivolumab and 9 patients treated with docetaxel were still alive. The respective overall survival rates were 13% versus 3% and progression-free survival rates were 8% versus 0%.

“Checkmate 017 and [Checkmate] 057 are the first phase III trials to report five-year outcomes for a [programmed cell-death protein 1 (PD-1)] inhibitor in previously treated advanced NSCLC,” said Scott Gettinger, professor of internal at Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, Connecticut, and lead author of the study. “Nivolumab remained well tolerated with no new safety signals.”

Nivolumab is a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. It does not have a marketing authorisation in the EU for previously treated NSCLC, but is available in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund for this indication.


[1] Gettinger S, Borghaei H, Brahmer J et al. Five-year outcomes from the randomized, phase 3 trials Checkmate 017/057: nivolumab vs docetaxel in previously treated NSCLC. [Presentation] IASLC 2019 World Conference on Lung Cancer. 7–10 September 2019. Barcelona, Spain

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2019, Vol 303, No 7931;303(7931):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207250

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