Promising Results: Pembrolizumab Enhances Mesothelioma Treatment

Promising Results: Pembrolizumab Enhances Mesothelioma Treatment

Pleural mesothelioma is a challenging cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It is often diagnosed in advanced stages with limited treatment options. However, a glimmer of hope has emerged in recent years with a groundbreaking approach.

The addition of pembrolizumab to standard chemotherapy has shown promising results in improving the overall survival of patients with this devastating disease.

A Global Effort

A phase 3 clinical trial was conducted across 51 hospitals in Canada, Italy, and France. Eligible participants, aged 18 years or older, had previously untreated advanced pleural mesothelioma and a good performance status. They were randomly divided into two groups. One received intravenous chemotherapy with or without pembrolizumab.

A Game-Changing Outcome

The trial ran from January 2017 to September 2020 and involved 440 patients. At the final analysis in December 2022, the results were striking. Patients who received pembrolizumab in addition to chemotherapy had significantly longer overall survival. This was compared to those who received chemotherapy alone.

The average overall survival for the pembrolizumab group was 17 months. While the chemotherapy-only group had an average survival of 16 months.

The study also revealed encouraging 3-year overall survival rates. Patients treated with pembrolizumab had a 3-year survival rate of 25%. In contrast, those with chemotherapy alone had a 17% survival rate. These results offer hope for better long-term outcomes in the treatment of advanced pleural mesothelioma.

Balancing Benefits and Risks

Like any treatment, there were side effects to consider. Adverse events due to the study treatment were observed in 27% of patients in the pembrolizumab group. This was compared to 15% in the chemotherapy-only group.

Additionally, hospital admissions for serious adverse events were more frequent in the pembrolizumab group (18%).  The chemotherapy-only group had only 6% hospital admissions. Grade 5 adverse events were relatively rare. They occurred in two patients in the pembrolizumab group and one patient in the chemotherapy-only group.

Adding pembrolizumab to standard platinum-pemetrexed chemotherapy showed positive results in patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma. This combination offers a new treatment option for those previously untreated. And it provides hope for improving the lives of those battling this challenging cancer.

It’s important to remember that this treatment option is based on rigorous research and clinical trials. Discussing the potential benefits and risks with your healthcare provider is essential to make informed decisions about the best treatment for your individual case.


Chu, Quincy, Francesco Perrone, Laurent Greillier, Wei Tu, Maria Carmela Piccirillo, Federica Grosso, Giuseppe Lo Russo, et al. “Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy versus Chemotherapy in Untreated Advanced Pleural Mesothelioma in Canada, Italy, and France: A Phase 3, Open-Label, Randomised Controlled Trial.” The Lancet 0, no. 0 (November 3, 2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01613-6.

Similar Posts