In a nutshell
The authors compared the safety and effectiveness of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and brentuximab vedotin (BV; Adcetris) for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL).
The study found that pembrolizumab had better survival without cancer worsening compared to BV in these patients.
A high number of patients with cHL experience relapse (worsening of the disease) or refractory (not responsive) disease to standard treatments. Immunotherapies have improved the outcomes of these patients.
A type of immunotherapy used for the treatment of r/r cHL is BV. BV is an antibody-drug conjugate. It combines an immune protein with an anti-cancer drug. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) are another type of immunotherapy. ICIs prevent the immune system from switching off. This allows the immune system to target and kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab is an ICI used to treat patients with r/r cHL. Whether pembrolizumab can provide more durable responses than BV in this patient population remains unknown.
Methods & findings
This study involved 304 patients with r/r cHL. Patients were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 included 151 patients who received pembrolizumab every 3 weeks. Group 2 included 153 patients who received BV every 3 weeks. The average follow-up time was 25.7 months.
The average time patients survived without cancer worsening was 13.2 months with pembrolizumab and 8.3 months with BV. Patients in the pembrolizumab group were 35% more likely to survive without cancer worsening after 2 years.
65.6% of patients in the pembrolizumab group and 54.2% in the BV group had a response to treatment.
74% of patients receiving pembrolizumab and 77% of patients receiving BV had treatment-related side effects. Side-effects that were common included inflammation of the lungs, low white blood cell count, and neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the limbs, hands or feet).
The bottom line
This study concluded that pembrolizumab was safe and more effective than BV in patients with r/r cHL.
The fine print
This study was funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, the manufacturer of pembrolizumab.
Published By :
The Lancet. Oncology
Mar 12, 2021
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