according to a recent study.
Although no primary or secondary endpoints were met, avelumab demonstrated similar antitumor activity compared with chemotherapy, reported, of Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea, and his coauthors.
“There currently are no internationally recognized treatment guidelines for patients with advanced gastric cancer/gastroesophageal junction cancer [GC/GEJC] in whom two prior lines of therapy have failed,” the investigators wrote in.
The phase 3, randomizedtrial compared avelumab, an anti–programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) monoclonal antibody, with physician’s choice of chemotherapy in 371 patients with metastatic GC/GEJC who had received two previous lines of systemic therapy. A total of 185 patients received avelumab and 186 patients received chemotherapy. Of those in the chemotherapy group, 120 (64.5%) were given irinotecan, 50 (29.0%) were given paclitaxel, and 3 (1.6%) received best supportive care only. The primary endpoint was overall survival, and secondary endpoints were objective response rate and progression-free survival. Safety and tolerability were also evaluated.
Neither primary nor secondary endpoints were met, and no significant difference in efficacy was found between treatment arms. However, tolerability was notably better in the avelumab treatment group. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 90 patients (48.9%) in the avelumab group, compared with 131 patients (74.0%) in the chemotherapy group. Grade 3 or higher treatment-related adverse events were also less common in the avelumab group (9.2% vs. 31.6%). In the avelumab treatment arm, 4 patients (2.2%) had grade 3 or higher immune-related adverse events (autoimmune hypothyroidism, autoimmune hepatitis, elevated AST, and colitis).
“These results demonstrate that avelumab is better tolerated than chemotherapy in patients with heavily pretreated GC/GEJC, supporting the potential of avelumab for combination or maintenance therapy, even in later stages of disease,” the investigators wrote. “Nevertheless, the optimal strategy for incorporating checkpoint inhibitors into the continuum of care for patients with advanced GC/GEJC is still unknown, and studies of alternative anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatment strategies in earlier lines of therapy are warranted.”
The study was funded by Merck and Pfizer. Authors reported compensation from AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, and others.
SOURCE: Bang YJ et al. Ann Oncol. 2018 Jul 24. .