Immunotherapy Combinations Offer ‘Hope and Promise’ for Patients with Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma

Positive results from the phase 3 CLEAR clinical trial, presented at the 2021 ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, are just one more dataset that could offer “a sense of hope and promise” for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), says the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert J. Motzer.

Positive results from the phase 3 CLEAR clinical trial, presented at the 2021 ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, are just one more dataset that could offer “a sense of hope and promise” for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), says the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert J. Motzer.

When compared to Sutent (sunitinib) monotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced RCC, the combination of Lenvima (lenvatinib) plus Keytruda (pembrolizumab) showed significant improvements in progression-free and overall survival and overall response rate, while the combination of Lenvima and Afinitor (everolimus) also demonstrated significant improvements in progression-free survival and overall response rate, leading researchers to believe that immune-oncology combination therapies such as these could offer more options for this patient population in the future.

In an interview with CURE®, Motzer, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, discussed how the treatment landscape has shifted since he first began practicing and what these study results mean for patients with advanced kidney cancer.

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Well, I think what's really striking is the gain we've made in both therapeutic output and in treatment options for clear cell RCC. You know, when I started my career, which is more than 30 years ago, there were very limited options for kidney cancer. The median progression-free survival for the cytokines we used was only four months and the median overall survival was 12 months or less. And so that really changed with tyrosine kinase inhibitors including sunitinib, cabozantinib (Cabometyx) (and) lenvatinib.

But more recently, with the combinations with (immuno)therapy and first-line therapy, I feel that there's been a dramatic benefit to patients. And also, although there have been a number of these different combinations that have been studied and shown to be effective. We can't really make cross study comparisons from one combination to another. But really, it's expanded the therapeutic options for patients. So it's instilled really much more of a sense of hope and promise for patients who are diagnosed with this disease that they may have a better outcome.