In a nutshell
This study evaluated the safety of nivolumab (Opdivo) combined with radiation therapy for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread. This study found that radiation therapy before or after treatment with nivolumab was not associated with an increased risk of severe side effects.
Previous studies have shown that nivolumab is effective in treating NSCLC. Nivolumab is a monoclonal antibody. This type of treatment helps boost the body's immune system to attack cancer cells. For patients with advanced disease, radiation therapy is often given together with nivolumab.
Radiation therapy may help nivolumab be more effective. This therapy can be given before, during, or after treatment with nivolumab. However, the safety of nivolumab combined with radiotherapy for patients with NSCLC remains under investigation.
Methods & findings
This study included 104 patients with NSCLC. All patients were treated with nivolumab and radiation therapy. 59 patients received radiation therapy at 6 months before starting nivolumab. 45 patients received radiation therapy at 3 months after nivolumab treatment. Patients were followed-up for an average of 15.8 months.
On average, patients survived for 11.1 months after treatment. 47.8% of patients were still alive at 1 year after treatment. On average, 17.6% of patients were still alive without tumor growth or spread at 1 year after treatment.
More patients who received radiotherapy 6 months before nivolumab were still alive 1 year later compared to patients who received radiotherapy during or after nivolumab treatment (55.3% vs. 42.2%).
Overall, 59.6% of patients had side effects. Most side effects were mild (85.6%). The most common of these were related to the stomach and digestive system (22.2%). 14.4% of patients had severe or serious side effects. 45.2% of patients had side effects related to their immune system.
The bottom line
The study concluded that treatment with nivolumab and radiation therapy is safe for patients with NSCLC that has spread, regardless of the timing of radiation therapy.
The fine print
This study was retrospective, meaning it looked back in time to analyze data. Also, this study was small. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the side effects associated with nivolumab plus radiotherapy.
Published By :
Oct 11, 2018