Background: Randomized phase III trials are ongoing to investigate the efficacy of nivolumab in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), but real-world data are still scarce. In this real-world study, we investigated the clinical outcomes of nivolumab treatment in pre-treated MPM patients.

Methods: Data from 107 nivolumab treated MPM patients within the Dutch expanded access program were retrospectively analyzed. Treatment was independent of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression on tumor samples. Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between clinically important factors, baseline peripheral blood parameters and survival. The landmark method was used to compare the outcome of patients according to their radiological response.

Results: In the full cohort, the median progression-free survival (mPFS) was 2.3 months (95% CI: 1.6–2.9) and the median overall survival (mOS) was 6.7 months (95% CI: 6.2–10.0). After 12 weeks, the disease control rate (DCR) was 37% and the objective response rate (ORR) was 10%. PD-L1 status was determined in 33 patients (30%) and PD-L1 positivity (≥1%) was associated with an improved ORR (36% vs. 9%, P value 0.05), but not with PFS or OS. Low albumin was associated with worse OS (P value 0.002). Median OS was significantly longer for patients who had partial response to treatment (P value 0.0002).

Conclusions: In this real-world analysis, ORR and mOS were lower compared to those obtained in phase II trials. However, exceptional survival rates were observed in patients who had a radiological response. Although we cannot determine whether prognostic or predictive, PD-L1 expression and albumin were associated with greater response rate and may represent useful biomarkers for nivolumab treatment in MPM.

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Translational Lung Cancer Research
Department of Pulmonology