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Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Can Be Active in Penile Cancer

Worse OS seen in association with visceral metastases, ECOG performance status ≥1, higher neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are active in some patients with penile cancer (PeCa), according to a study published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Talal El Zarif, M.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study including 92 patients with locally advanced or metastatic PeCa receiving ICIs during 2015 to 2022 across 24 centers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were estimated, and objective response rates (ORRs) were determined.

Overall, 28, 25, 17, and 16 percent of patients received pembrolizumab monotherapy, combination nivolumab/ipilimumab with or without multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors, nivolumab, or cemiplimab monotherapies, respectively. The researchers found that the median OS was 9.8 months and median PFS was 3.2 months. ORR was 13 and 35 percent in the overall cohort and for those with lymph node-only metastases. Worse OS was seen in association with visceral metastases, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status ≥1, and higher neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 29 percent of participants; 9.8 percent were grade 3 or higher.

“The study highlights the importance of high-quality, real-world research to advance therapeutic options for this rare cancer,” El Zarif said in a statement. “We are hopeful that response and survival rates will continue to improve for patients fighting penile cancer.”

Several authors disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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