(HealthDay News) — In a new study, nivolumab outperformed everolimus in terms of reductions in tumor size and boosting patient survival in advanced renal-cell carcinoma. The research was published online Sept. 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the 2015 European Cancer Congress, held from Sept. 25 to 29 in Vienna.
Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues compared nivolumab against everolimus in 821 patients with advanced renal-cell carcinoma. All of the patients had seen their tumor progress despite initial standard treatments.
Nivolumab did seem to improve outcomes for patients, with median survival increasing from 19.6 months for those taking everolimus to 25 months among patients taking nivolumab, the researchers reported. The gap between the two drugs decreased, however, when the study focused on progression-free survival. In that case, average progression-free survival was 4.6 months for those taking nivolumab and 4.4 months for those on everolimus, the study authors said. The data also showed that a greater proportion of patients saw a decrease in tumor size if they were taking nivolumab.
Serious side effects occurred in 19 percent of patients taking nivolumab versus 37 percent of those taking everolimus. The most common side effects were fatigue, nausea, and pruritus among those taking nivolumab, and fatigue, anemia, and stomatitis for those taking everolimus, the researchers said. There were no drug-related deaths in the nivolumab group, but two occurred in the everolimus group.
The study was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of nivolumab.