The early results of two large, Phase III clinical trials of the immunotherapy Opdivo (nivolumab) showed significant survival benefits for patients with Esophageal Cancer.  Neither trial required patients to unsuccessfully try other therapies before receiving the immunotherapy. Full results of both trials are expected at the end of September.

Immunotherapy after Chemoradiation and Surgery

In one trial, called Checkmate-577, patients with both Esophageal Adenocarcinoma and Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma were given Opdivo (nivolumab) after undergoing chemoradiation and surgery.  The results released this week showed that the patients who received the immunotherapy experienced a significant disease-free survival rate compared to those who were given a placebo.

Click here to read the full news release about Checkmate-577 from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Lead Investigator in this trial, Dr. Ronan J. Kelly, director of the Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Baylor University Medical Center and a former member of the ECAN Board of Directors, spoke with ECAN President and CEO Mindy Mintz Mordecai about the study and its potential impact for Esophageal Cancer patients in the future.

Interview with Dr. Ronan J. Kelly about Checkmate-577

Edited Interview

In-Depth Interview

First-Line Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy for Patients with Metastasis

Another Phase III clinical trial, called Checkmate-649, provided Opdivo along with standard chemotherapy (FOLFOX) to patients with Esophageal Adenocarcinoma and Gastroesophageal Junction Cancer and found a significant overall and progression-free survival benefit. The significant overall survival benefit was found among all patients who received Opdivo with chemotherapy compared to those who only received chemotherapy and a significant progression-free survival benefit for those whose tumors expressed PD-L1 at 5 or higher compared to patients who only received chemotherapy.

“There is an urgent need to improve therapeutic options for patients with esophageal and stomach cancer. Responses to the current standard chemotherapy in patients are short-lived, and less than 6% of patients with metastatic disease survive beyond five years,” said Yelena Y. Janjigian, M.D., Principal Investigator, Chief, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Immunotherapy helped transform how we care for our patients across different tumor types, and the encouraging results from CheckMate -649 represent a new opportunity to improve survival for patients beyond standard chemotherapy.”

Click here to read the full news release about Checkmate-649 from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Yelena Y. Janjigian, M.D., Principal Investigator, Chief, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center spoke with ECAN about the significance of the information released about the Checkmate-649 trial thus far.

Interview with Dr. Yelena Y. Janjigian about Checkmate-649

ECAN will provide updates about the full results of these studies once all of the data is released at the 2020 European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in mid-September.