Immunotherapy combinations are becoming the standard treatment after surgery for people with clear cell kidney cancer. However, there is not a lot of information about the treatment of people with non-clear cell kidney cancer, such as papillary, chromophobe and collecting duct carcinoma with these combinations.  KEYNOTE -B61 is a phase 2 clinical trial to look at the effectiveness and safety of the pembrolizumab plus lenvatinib combination in people with advanced non-clear-cell kidney cancer.

158 patients were enrolled in the study and received treatment. Most patients were white (81%) men (71%) and the average age was 60. After following the patients for an average of 15 months, nearly half of the patients had a response to treatment and their cancer got smaller. Nine patients (6%) had a complete response and were cancer-free.
Half of the patients reported serious or life-threatening side effects, the most common of which were high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and a sore mouth.  Unfortunately, 8 patients died during the study. None of the deaths were thought to be related to the pembrolizumab plus lenvatinib treatment.
Pembrolizumab plus lenvatinib is effective in patients with previously untreated advanced non-clear cell kidney cancer. The safety of the treatment is consistent with that of previous studies. These results support the use of pembrolizumab plus lenvatinib as a first-line treatment option for patients with non-clear cell kidney cancer.