Keytruda Plus Chemoradiotherapy Benefits Patients with Cervical Cancer


Adding Keytruda to chemoradiotherapy significantly improved progression-free survival for patients with newly diagnosed high-risk locally advanced cervical cancer.

ovary, uterus, cervix

Adding Keytruda to chemoradiotherapy tended to improve progression-free survival in patients with cervical cancer.

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) plus chemoradiotherapy, external beam radiotherapy and following brachytherapy, improved outcomes for patients with newly-diagnosed, high-risk, locally advanced cervical cancer, according to findings from the phase 3 KEYNORE-A18 study. This trial met a primary endpoint of progression-free survival (time from treatment until disease progression), according to Merck, the manufacturer of Keytruda.

Merck also continues to analyze trends in overall survival and the primary endpoint while investigating Keytruda plus chemoradiotherapy versus chemoradiotherapy alone. Overall results within the study will soon be presented in an upcoming medical meeting, according to Merck.

“Patients with high-risk locally advanced cervical cancer often have a poor prognosis, with more than half of patients experiencing disease recurrence within two years. However, there have been limited new treatment advances for these patients beyond the current standard of care in the last 20 years,” said professor Domenica Lorusso, the study’s overall principal investigator, lead investigator for ENGOT, and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Catholic University of Rome.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most popular cancer, and all women are at risk. Annual cervical screenings are encouraged, especially for women between the ages of 35 to 44, according to Merck.

Patients enrolled in the study took a 200 mg dose of Keytruda on day one of each three-week cycle for five cycles, following a 400 mg dose on day one of each six-week cycle for another 15 cycles, adding chemoradiotherapy for five to six weeks, and brachytherapy.

Placebo plus chemoradiotherapy was investigated for five to six weeks plus EBRT and brachytherapy, according to MERCK.

Keytruda is a “anti-programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells,” according to Merck.

“These results are very encouraging and support the use of pembrolizumab combined with the current standard of care in locally advanced cervical cancer to help address the need for new treatment options beyond chemoradiotherapy alone,” explained Lorusso.

Keytruda currently has two approved indications for patients with cervical cancer, one being chemotherapy with or without Avastin (bevacizumab), and the second as a single agent.

READ MORE: Frontline Keytruda Plus Chemo, Regardless of Avastin, Provides Survival Benefit in Cervical Cancer

Merck emphasized that patients should regularly check symptoms within the earlier stages of treatment. “Institute medical management promptly, including specialty consultation as appropriate,” the pharmaceutical company said.

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