Novel Immunotherapy for Advanced Bladder Cancer Extends Overall Survival

Patients treated with atezolizumab had a longer median overall survival than patients treated with carboplatin-based regimens.

Findings from a recent study suggest that atezolizumab (Tecentriq) could potentially treat patients with treatment-naïve advanced bladder cancer who are not eligible for cisplatin treatment.

Atezolizumab is an anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy that attaches to PD-L1 on the surface of tumor cells, which causes the immune system to attack the tumor, according to the study presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

“Up to half of patients with advanced bladder cancer are too frail to receive the only known survival-prolonging treatment, cisplatin. There is really no standard treatment for such patients,” said lead study author Arjun Vasant Balar, MD. “We are encouraged to see that atezolizumab immunotherapy may help address this major unmet need.”

The study, IMvigor210, included 119 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial bladder cancer. Patients either received the drug as a second-line therapy or as an upfront treatment.

Based on previous results released about atezolizumab as a second-line therapy, the FDA granted it accelerated approval after treatment with a platinum-based therapy. In the current study, approximately 24% of patients responded to the therapy at the median follow-up time of 14.4 months.

Researchers found that median survival was 14.8 months and 75% of patients who responded to treatment were still ongoing at the time of analysis, according to the study.

Researchers found that only 10 to 15% of patients experienced severe adverse effects.

“The majority of our patients had few or no side effects from atezolizumab and only 6% of patients discontinued treatment because of toxicity,” concluded Dr Balar. “This is in stark contrast to the approximate 20% rate of treatment discontinuation from toxicity observed with carboplatin-based chemotherapy regimens. Immunotherapy appears to be much easier to tolerate than chemotherapy, and this is especially important for elderly patients.”