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Sharma Stresses Importance of Refining Immunotherapy in GU Cancers

Brandon Scalea
Published: Monday, Sep 10, 2018

Dr Padmanee Sharma
Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD
Immunotherapy has demonstrated encouraging data in some genitourinary (GU) cancers, but there is still much work left to make it a “pillar” of cancer treatment in this space, said Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD.

For example, more effective biomarkers predictive of patient response to immunotherapy can be developed. Better education of community oncologists in how to treat immune-related adverse events (irAEs) is also necessary, added Sharma, a professor of Immunology in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Updated data from the open-label, single-arm CheckMate-275 trial indicate that immunotherapy continues to play a role in urothelial carcinoma. After a median follow-up of 2 years, nivolumab (Opdivo) continued to show durable efficacy in patients with advanced platinum-resistant disease. Median progression-free and overall survival (OS) were 1.9 months and 8.6 months, respectively. The OS benefit was observed across all levels of PD-L1 expression, according to data presented at the 2018 AACR Annual Meeting.

The 1- and 2-year OS rates were 40.3% and 29.4%, respectively. The overall response rate was 20.4% for all treated patients (n = 270). Of the responders (n = 55), 54.5% had a duration of response ≥1 year. Common treatment-related adverse events (AEs) included fatigue (18.1%), diarrhea (12.2%), and pruritus (11.5%).

In an interview with OncLive, Sharma shared insight on the current state of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with GU cancers.

OncLive: What is the state of immunotherapy in GU cancers?

Sharma: [Immunotherapy] should be one of the major arms of treatment that you can use. The next step is how to make it better. Immunotherapy has been FDA approved for other tumor types like melanoma, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer. We need it to work in multiple tumor types in terms of GU cancers. Right now, it's not working in prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and some others.




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