The overall median survival figures about immunotherapy versus chemotherapy have been reported often for mesothelioma.

A few other pieces of data stress how well the immunotherapy drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab shine.

The Annals of Oncology, the official journal of the European Society of Clinical Oncology, released the three-year checkup of the game-changing Checkmate-743 clinical trial. This trial led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve nivolumab and ipilimumab for unresectable malignant mesothelioma.


Brief Description of Opdivo and Yervoy 

Nivolumab is the generic name for immunotherapy drug Opdivo. This drug is an immune checkpoint inhibitor blocking the cancerous protein PD-L1, which suppresses the immune system. Ipilimumab is the generic name for Yervoy, which blocks CTLA-4 and B7 from linking.

Opdivo and Yervoy finished the study with a median survival of 18.1 months, compared to just 14.1 months for chemotherapy. The three-year survival rates were 23% for immunotherapy and 15% for chemotherapy.

Those two data sets have been published often by mesothelioma treatment advocates and hospitals. There are a few other noteworthy signs favoring immunotherapy for mesothelioma.


Tumor Response to Opdivo and Yervoy Lasts Longer

The three-year progression-free survival rates were 14% for Opdivo and Yervoy, compared to just 1% for chemotherapy. This data set describes patients who didn’t have any cancer growth at any point for three years.

Another figure of significance is ongoing response at three years:

  • 28% for Opdivo/Yervoy
  • 0% for chemotherapy

This data set indicates more than one quarter of patients had some sort of response – meaning tumors were shrinking – thanks to Opdivo and Yervoy immunotherapy. No patients receiving chemotherapy reached this milestone.

What’s most interesting is chemotherapy elicited a baseline response in more patients: 44% versus 40% for immunotherapy.

Taking this figure with the others shows patients who have some response to immunotherapy often benefit for a lengthy time. More than half of patients who have some response to Opdivo and Yervoy keep that response going for at least three years.

We can help any patient explore options for immunotherapy treatment. Most cancer centers offer this therapy to people with malignant mesothelioma. If you have unresectable cancer, let us help you get a second opinion or begin Opdivo and Yervoy. Email nurse Karen Ritter, our patient advocate, at

    Sources & Author

    • First-line nivolumab plus ipilimumab versus chemotherapy in patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma: 3-year outcomes from CheckMate 743. Annals of Oncology. Retrieved from: Accessed: 02/07/2022.
Devin Goldan image

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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