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New Treatment Option for Some With Metastatic Lung Cancer

Nivolumab found most effective in tumors expressing programmed death-ligand 1

TUESDAY, Sept. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- In a recent study, patients with metastatic nonsquamous non-small-cell lung cancer treated with nivolumab lived an average of 12.2 months, while patients treated with docetaxel lived an average of 9.4 months. The results of this phase 3 trial were published online Sept. 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the 2015 European Cancer Congress, held from Sept. 25 to 29 in Vienna.

The patients in the trial had advanced nonsquamous, non-small-cell lung cancer and were current or former smokers. They were an average of 62 years old and received nivolumab after being treated with traditional chemotherapy.

At one year after treatment, 51 percent of the 292 patients treated with nivolumab were alive, compared with 39 percent of the 290 patients treated with docetaxel. At 18 months, overall survival was 39 percent among those treated with nivolumab and 23 percent among patients treated with docetaxel. Nivolumab was most effective for patients whose tumors expressed programmed death-ligand 1. In these patients, nivolumab resulted in longer overall and progression-free survival than docetaxel. Ten percent of patients treated with nivolumab had treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4, compared with 54 percent of patients treated with docetaxel.

"It looks like we have a new treatment option for patients with metastatic lung cancer that progresses after standard chemotherapy," lead researcher Hossein Borghaei, D.O., chief of thoracic medical oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, told HealthDay.

The research was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of nivolumab.

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