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Expert Rev Respir Med. 2020 Jan;14(1):5-13. doi: 10.1080/17476348.2020.1681977. Epub 2019 Oct 29.

Nivolumab for the treatment of small cell lung cancer.

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Unit of Melanoma, Cancer Immunotherapy and Development Therapeutics, Istituto Nazionale Tumori IRCCS Fondazione Pascale, Napoli, Italy.


Introduction: Treatment of extensive-stage SCLC is still a challenge but immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors is showing promising results. Nivolumab alone or in combination with ipilimumab has demonstrated a benefit in terms of response and survival in patients with pre-treated extensive-stage disease and has been approved as third-line therapy after failure of chemotherapy. However, data from two phase III trials with nivolumab are negative. In the first trial, nivolumab was administered as a single agent compared to second-line chemotherapy, while in the second it was given alone or in combination with ipilimumab as maintenance treatment after platinum-based chemotherapy.Areas covered: Our review focuses on the role of immunotherapy, and in particular nivolumab, in the treatment of SCLC, describing the results of the main trials and its future perspectives, with reference to clinical trials with other checkpoint inhibitors.Expert opinion: The future of nivolumab in the treatment of SCLC needs to be clarified with further clinical trials, in which improved patient selection and a more specific setting and/or timepoint of the disease may be identified.


Nivolumab; antiPD1 inhibitors; antiPDL1 inhibitors; chemotherapy

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