The three‑year survival rate for unresectable mesothelioma is up considerably when Opdivo and Yervoy are the treatment approach.

It’s positive news for people believing in Opdivo and Yervoy for mesothelioma.

This news comes in a press release from Bristol Myers Squibb. It’s based on the Checkmate-743 clinical trial, which compares Opdivo and Yervoy to chemotherapy. The study is the basis for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving Opdivo and Yervoy for unresectable pleural mesothelioma.

Half the patients in the study received Opdivo plus Yervoy. The other half received chemotherapy. Comparing survival was the primary benchmark.

According to the press release, patients receiving Opdivo and Yervoy had a 23% three‑year survival rate. This is up from the chemotherapy group, which was at 15%. This data comes at the three‑year follow‑up, around a year after treatment ended for patients. More than 25% of Opdivo/Yervoy patients were still “in response”, meaning their tumors were regressing.

There likely will be a four‑ and five‑year follow‑up.

Opdivo/Yervoy reached a two‑year survival rate of 40%. Chemotherapy was just south of 30%. The median survival for Opdivo/Yervoy was also higher: 18.1 months versus 14.1 months.

Opdivo and Yervoy are classified as immunotherapy for mesothelioma. They are immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs tasked with propping up the immune system to fight cancer. Opdivo is the brand name for nivolumab, and Yervoy is the brand name for ipilimumab.

Chemotherapy is the comparative benchmark as the first approved treatment for unresectable mesothelioma patients. The first option is surgery, but it’s only safe and effective when the cancer is in early stages. Most patients are diagnosed in later stages, which is why oncologists turn to chemotherapy.

The survival rates for chemotherapy are poor, as around 5% reach five‑year survival. Most patients die within one year of their diagnosis. Chemotherapy also causes uncomfortable side effects.

Mesothelioma doctors have hoped for an alternative to improve survival and quality of life. Opdivo and Yervoy — along with the Optune Lua tumor treating fields device — have filled the void.

If you have mesothelioma or a family member has the cancer, we can help with starting treatment. Immunotherapy is available at most top cancer centers. Email our registered nurse, Karen Ritter, for help finding a hospital near you. She’s reachable at

    Sources & Author

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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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