In March 2019, the FDA approved the use of the immunotherapy Tecentriq (atezolizumab; from Genentech), a PD-L1 inhibitor, in combination with a chemotherapy regimen as first-line treatment of patients with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer. Tecentriq was previously approved for bladder (urothelial) cancer, non–small-cell lung cancer (or NSCLC), and in March 2019, for triple-negative breast cancer (read more).
This new approval was based on the results of a clinical trial of 403 patients who had not received chemotherapy for extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer. In this study, patients received either Tecentriq plus chemotherapy or placebo plus chemotherapy. The average survival was 3 months longer with the combination of immunotherapy plus chemotherapy, for a total of 12.3 months in the Tecentriq group versus 10.3 months in the placebo group. The average time without cancer progression was 5.2 months in patients who received Tecentriq plus chemotherapy versus 4.3 months in those who received placebo plus chemotherapy.
The most common side effects in the Tecentriq plus chemotherapy group were fatigue, nausea, hair loss (alopecia), constipation, and decreased appetite.