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Nivolumab Effective in Advanced Anal Cancer

Jason Harris
Published: Monday, Apr 10, 2017

Cathy Eng, MD

Cathy Eng, MD

Treatment with the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) resulted in an overall response rate (ORR) of 24.3% in previously treated patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal (SCCA), according to findings from a single-arm phase II trial published in The Lancet Oncology.1

“Much is unknown about using immunotherapy for the treatment of SCCA: how can we select patients who will benefit? How can other patients be made sensitive to these drugs? And what role might nivolumab have in the treatment of locoregional disease together [with] chemoradiotherapy?” he wrote. “Even so, Morris and colleagues have shown that nivolumab seems to benefit a quarter of patients. For the first time in 20 years, there is something new in the treatment of SCCA.”


  1. Morris VK, Salem ME, Nimeiri H, et al. Nivolumab for previously treated unresectable metastatic anal cancer (NCI9673): a multicentre, single-arm, phase 2 study. Lancet Oncol. 2017;18:446-453.
  2. van der Zee RP, Richel O, de Vries HJC, Prins JM. The increasing incidence of anal cancer: can it be explained by trends in risk groups? Neth J Med. 2013;71:401-411.
  3. Cascinu S. Anal cancer: from an orphan disease to a curable malignancy? Lancet Oncol. doi:

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