Opdivo and Yervoy are helping people with pleural mesothelioma live longer.

Could the same happen for people with peritoneal mesothelioma?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo and Yervoy — brand name immunotherapy drugs — for malignant pleural mesothelioma in October 2020. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lung cavity, right between the lungs and chest wall.

Peritoneal mesothelioma was not part of the approval. This cancer forms in the lining of the abdomen, which houses many vital organs. The best option is surgery, but non‑surgical cases are left with intravenous chemotherapy and palliative care.

Doctors at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center looked into using Opdivo and Yervoy for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.


Improved Survival for Non‑Surgical Cases

Opdivo is the brand name for the immunotherapy drug nivolumab. Yervoy is the brand name for ipilimumab. Both are immune checkpoint inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy for mesothelioma. Their task is to help the immune system respond aggressively to cancer.

Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, focused on 29 patients with “advanced peritoneal mesothelioma.” Advanced cancer often eliminates surgical cases due to how far the disease has spread in the abdomen.

Opdivo and Yervoy led to an overall median survival of 19 months, which is excellent. The one‑year survival rate was 68%, also impressive. For most non‑surgical cases of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, the median survival is 12 months and one‑year survival rate around 50%.

“Our results provide much‑needed data supporting the role of (immune checkpoint inhibitors) in patients with this rare disease, who cannot participate in clinical trials and otherwise have no or limited treatment options,” the authors wrote.

Other statistics from the study were:

  • 19% response rate (meaning the disease shrank)
  • 65% disease control rate (meaning the disease either shrank or stalled)
  • Median progression-free survival of 5.5 months
  • Only one patient experienced toxic side effects from treatment

All five of the response cases continued receiving treatment throughout the study. The other 24 stopped due to disease progression or death.

    Sources & Author

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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