Results from a phase Ib/II study looking at lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) showed that there was a response to treatment and the cancer reduced in size (objective response) in 73% of patients who had not received previous medication for their cancer.

There were 143 patients in the study, some of which were untreated (22), some who had been treated with immunotherapy (104) and some who had received another type of medication (17). The response to lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab in patients not treated with immunotherapy was 41%, and 56% in immunotherapy-treated patients after 24 weeks of treatment.

Over half of all patients (57%) had a severe side effect to treatment while only 7% had a life-threatening side effect. There were three deaths during the study that were considered to be related to treatment.

In conclusion, there is currently a lack of information about the safety and effectiveness of immunotherapy plus VEGF-inhibitor treatment for metastatic kidney cancer, especially in the second-line after immunotherapies. Lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab appears to be effective; however, the these findings need to be validated in the ongoing phase III study.

Read more in Practice Update here