Combination Immunotherapy Shows Potential in Treating Metastatic Bladder Cancer

According to a story from, the findings from a recent study indicate the patients with metastatic bladder cancer demonstrated an improved rate of response to an immunotherapy drug combination that included ipilimumab (marketed as Yervoy) and nivolumab (marketed as Opdivo). This study was the very first to test an immunotherapy combination in metastatic bladder cancer. Cancer that is metastatic has begun to spread from its area of origin, making it more difficult to treat successfully.

About Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is not considered a rare form of cancer. In the US, there are around ~80,000 new cases per year. There are several risk factors for bladder cancer, the most common of which is tobacco smoking. Other factors include bladder infections, family history, exposure benzidine, and other workplace carcinogens. Some genetic variants may also increase the risk. Men are more frequently affected than women. Symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, feeling a need to urinate without being able to, frequent urination, flank or pelvic area pain, and pain during urination. Treatment of bladder cancer often consists of surgical operations that may include removal of the bladder entirely; radiation and chemotherapy are also used in more advanced cases. The five year survival rate is around 77 percent in the US. To learn more about bladder cancer, click here.

About The Clinical Trial

The clinical trial compared results from three different groups. One group of patients was treated with Opdivo on its own. The second group was treated with Opdivo plus a 1mg/kg dose of Yervoy; the final group was treated with the same combination but with the Yervoy dose increased to 3mg/kg. The patients with the highest dose of Yervoy also had the best overall response rate of 38 percent compared to just 26.9 percent for the smaller dose and 25.6 percent for Opdivo alone.

The highest combination dose group also had a longer duration of average overall survival: 15.3 months compared to only 9 months for Opdivo alone and just 7.4 months for the patients with the lower dose combination. Opdivo and Yervoy are both types of immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors.

While the results from this study are encouraging, the researchers says that the next step is a similar, larger scale study that will aim to produce comparable results in order to further confirm the validity of the findings.

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