Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy Study in Metastatic Lung Cancer

Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy Study in Metastatic Lung Cancer

There is a new first-line therapy which helps people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Its name is platinum-based chemotherapy and it lacks any targetable mutations. The pembrolizumab substance has recently replaced the cytotoxic chemotherapy as the first-line treatment. This addition brought a dramatic increase in the positive response. Moreover, there was a longer progression-free survival rate than when the doctors used only chemotherapy.

The Study

The study was, in fact, a double-blind, phase 3 trial. The scientists initially randomly assigned 616 patients that had metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC to get a platinum-based drug, pemetrexed, plus a placebo or 200 mg of pembrolizumab every 3 weeks.

Another thing to note is that the patients had never received another treatment for the metastatic disease. The scheme was followed in 4 cycles, followed by placebo or pembrolizumab, which totals to 35 cycles. Meanwhile, the patients also received a pemetrexed maintenance therapy. The main goals were the overall survival, as well as a progression-free one. The results were assessed by an independent central radiologic review.

The Results

The results didn’t delay in appearing. The estimated rate of survival after one year rose to 69.2% in the group that took pembrolizumab. At the same time, for the group that was administered placebo, the overall survival rate was 49.4%. However, there was a visible improvement in the overall survival across all the categories the scientists evaluated.

In the first group, the median progression-free survival reached 8.8 months, while in the second group it reached 4.9 months. There were also some adverse events of grade 3 or more serious, which appeared in 67.2% of the patients who took pembrolizumab and in 65.8% of those who took placebo.

All in all, it seems that the addition of pembrolizumab to the regular treatment with pemetrexed plus a platinum-based drug changed all the results for the better.


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