Monoclonal Antibodies – Information Request

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Tom Norkunas 2 years, 11 months ago.

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September 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm  #1271057    


I am unsure if this is the appropriate forum to post, if not I apologize in advance.

Hello. As an additional disclaimer, I apologize for my ignorance and/or lack of clarity in my questions. I am not a medical professional, just a very concerned son.

I have a question regarding monoclonal antibody drugs, specifically Opdivo. My father has recently been accepted into a drug trial for Opdivo after a PET scan revealed a reoccurrence of his previous cancer.

I have read that this drug specifically as shown a success rate of 41% of patients remaining alive after one year of treatment, with a median life expectancy of 8.3 months.

My initial questions are:
1) Are there other monoclonal antibodies that are more promising/have higher rates of patient longevity?
2) Of those patients who were still alive after one (1) year, do you know the average life expectancy after that initial period?
3) Is this treatment a life-long process or will there be a point at which my father is unable to receive more of these antibodies?

Due to my lack of knowledge in this field, I’d like to become as educated as possible. I am very frightened and feel that having more knowledge may help.

September 5, 2015 at 6:16 am  #1271061    
JimC Forum Moderator
JimC Forum Moderator


Welcome to GRACE. I am sorry to hear that your father’s cancer has recurred. I hope that he will have a good, long-lasting response to Opdivo.

Response and survival statistics for cancer drugs should not be relied upon too much to try to predict what will happen in a particular individual’s situation. This is especially true for a newer drug still in clinical trials. It’s not possible to generalize from one trial to another, or from one patient to another. Some patients respond well to a treatment, while others don’t, and some have more aggressive forms of cancer than others. Overall survival is also affected by factors such as a patients age and other health conditions, as well as which drugs they receive (if any) following the drug in question, Some patients have more widespread disease at the time they begin treatment. So try not to focus on those specific numbers. Over the seven years I have been on this site, I have seen many patients fare much better than the medians, some quite a bit better. There are always patients for whom a particular therapy works very well, some for years.

That being said, most cancer drugs are effective for a patient for a period of time and then become less effective, necessitating a treatment change. The good news is that there are many new drugs being tested in clinical trials, some of which show great promise. The pace of research has accelerated in recent years, so there will be plenty of options should your father need to change from Opdivo to another agent.

Good luck with your father’s treatment.

Forum moderator

Jul 2008 Wife Liz (51/never smoker) Dx Stage IV NSCLC EGFR exon 19
4 cycles Carbo/alimta, 65% shrinkage
Tarceva maintenance
Mar 2010 progression, added Alimta, stable
Sep 2010 multiple brain mets, WBR
Oct 2010 large pericardial effusion, tamponade
Jan 2011 progression, start abraxane
Jun 2011-New liver, brain mets, add Tarceva
Oct 2011-Dx Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis; pulsed Tarceva
At rest Nov 4 2011
Since then:

September 5, 2015 at 9:29 am  #1271062    

Tom Norkunas

I’ll take a stab at adding to Jim’s answer.

1) There are none proven better. There are studies ongoing, but this is an excellent option in a bad situation.

2) The last data I have seen is that the tests are ongoing, they still don’t know how long the survivors survive, on average. This again, is excellent, if you are among the lucky.

3) There is some evidence that the effect is durable, that is, there may be a point where Odivo would no longer be given, but it’s effect continues. This is not proven, who in their right mind would stop while it’s working and is tolerated? But some people have had to stop, and have had ongoing good results. Not proven in studies, though.

Wife Lucy DX stage IV adenocarcinoma NSCLC 11/13, T2AN2M1A. Right lung tumor 3.8 cm, nodes and plueral fluid, SUV 5.2. Pluerodesis to deal with fluids – success. EGFR wild type, ALK-. 4 rounds of carboplatin, paclitaxel and bevacizumab, tumor 2.7cm, stable. 2/14, started ECOG 5508 bevacizumab arm 2/18/15 progression. 3/3/15, two brain mets, ineligible for Roche MPDL3280A “OAK” trial – stereotactic surgery to brain mets, pemetrexed second line therapy.

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