From the blog

Keytruda Helps Improve Survival for Mesothelioma When Used Alongside Chemotherapy

Published: March 31, 2023

Keytruda is showing promising results for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma. Researchers found that the combination of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and chemotherapy lead to a better survival in patients versus chemotherapy alone. Mesothelioma is a hard-to-treat cancer with no cure. It can be found in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. The aggressive nature of the cancer means it is incredibly important for research to be performed to find a cure or to at least extend survival and improve quality of life. Immunotherapies are great options for mesothelioma because they help the immune system fight cancer cells.

There were 400 patients in the randomized, open label trial. The patients were randomized 1:1 and either received 200 mg of pembrolizumab every three weeks for up to 35 cycles combined with 500 mg/m2 of pemetrexed every three weeks for six cycles and 75 mg/m2 cisplatin every three weeks for six cycles or pemetrexed and cisplatin alone. For some patients, carboplatin was allowed to be substituted for cisplatin. Patients in the study had to be at least 18 years or older and had to have unresectable (cannot have surgery) advanced and/or metastatic malignant pleural mesothelioma. They must have been able to receive either pemetrexed or cisplatin chemotherapy, an EGOC performance status of 0 or 1, had no contraindications for chemotherapy, and their cancer had to be incurable with standard therapies. Patients were allowed to receive radiation 28 days before registration except for radiation to the thorax unless disease progression was demonstrated.

The goal of the study was to determine the overall survival of patients who receive Keytruda with chemotherapy, progression free survival of patients, and the objective response rate to treatment. Researchers also wanted to determine the safety of the treatment and the quality of life of patients who receive the combination of drugs. The researchers determined that the safety of the treatment matched up with prior studies of pembrolizumab and chemotherapy.

Researchers believe the results from this study will help patients struggling with pleural mesothelioma. They will be reporting their findings at an upcoming medical meeting and will also be sharing it with regulatory bodies. If the findings are positive, the treatment could possibly reach more patients. Limited options prevent patients from living long, healthy lives. More studies of different types of treatments could help researchers find the best options for individuals with pleural and even peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular mesothelioma.

Jordan Sava, “Pembrolizumab Plus Chemotherapy Prolongs OS in Advanced Mesothelioma” Targeted Oncology (March 13, 2023). [Link]
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