Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Quality of Life During Pembrolizumab Treatment for Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

By: Anna Nowogrodzki
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020

In the second- or third-line setting, intravenous pembrolizumab treatment resulted in similar overall survival and better health-related quality of life than investigator’s choice of chemotherapy for patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, according to health-related quality-of-life analyses from the phase III KEYNOTE-119 trial. Peter Schmid, MD, PhD, of Barts Cancer Institute, London, and colleagues published their findings in the Annals of Oncology.

“These results clearly show there is a group of patients who do at least as well with single-agent immunotherapy as chemotherapy in terms of survival and probably better in terms of quality of life,” Dr. Schmid said in a European Society for Medical Oncology press release.

The open-label KEYNOTE-119 trial included nearly 600 patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer who were receiving second- or third-line treatment. Of this study population, 371 patients had PD-L1–positive disease with a combined positive score (CPS) ≥ 1 and 177 patients had PD-L1–positive disease with a CPS ≥ 10. Patients were randomly assigned to either intravenous pembrolizumab or investigator’s choice of chemotherapy. The researchers administered the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality-of-life questionnaire QLQ-C30 and the breast cancer–specific quality-of-life questionnaire QLQ-BR23 at baseline, at “various time points” during therapy for up to 2 years or until treatment ended, and at a 30-day follow-up visit.

Overall survival was similar for patients in both treatment groups. In the CPS-enriched population (≥ 10), almost all prespecified patient-reported outcomes were improved in the pembrolizumab arm compared with the chemotherapy arm. Systemic effects of therapy, nausea, and vomiting were all significantly lower with pembrolizumab. The median time to deterioration of global health status/quality of life was 4.3 months for the pembrolizumab arm compared with 1.7 months for the chemotherapy arm (hazard ratio = 0.70).

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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