Pembrolizumab Combined With Either Docetaxel or Gemcitabine in Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Platinum-Refractory Urothelial Cancer: Results From a Phase I Study

Mamta Parikh, Chong-Xian Pan, Laurel A Beckett, Yueju Li, Daniel A. Robles, Pawandeep K. Aujla, Primo N Lara

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2 Scopus citations


Although immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy has led to modest response rates in patients with advanced urothelial cancer, the combination of chemotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibition has not been previously clinically studied. In this phase I study, we found that the combination of pembrolizumab with either docetaxel or gemcitabine in patients with platinum-refractory advanced urothelial cancer was feasible and active. Introduction: Cytotoxic chemotherapy might prime urothelial cancer (UC) to checkpoint inhibition, prompting a trial of chemotherapy with the programmed death receptor-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab. Patients and Methods: Patients with advanced, platinum-refractory UC received pembrolizumab and either docetaxel (arm A) or gemcitabine (arm B). Primary end points were assessments of maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). Secondary end points were overall response rate (ORR) and progression-free survival (PFS). Results: Twelve patients were enrolled in the initial cohorts; 6 in each arm. One DLT was seen in each arm: Grade 3 hypophosphatemia (arm A), Grade 3 diarrhea (arm B). Adverse events of Grade >3 were observed in 7 (54%), the most common being anemia (6; 50%), fatigue (6; 50%), hyponatremia (4; 33%) and neutropenia (3; 25%), with no treatment-related deaths. There were 5 confirmed responses (1 complete, 4 partial), with an ORR of 42% and disease control rate (DCR) of 58%. Arm A had an ORR of 50% and DCR of 67%, whereas arm B had an ORR of 33% and DCR of 50%. Median PFS was 4.8, 5.7, and 3.7 months for the overall cohort, arm A, and arm B, respectively. Conclusion: Pembrolizumab with either docetaxel or gemcitabine is feasible for treatment of platinum-refractory advanced UC patients. Preliminary efficacy was observed. Further examination is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Genitourinary Cancer
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Checkpoint inhibition
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Platinum-refractory
  • Urothelial Carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology

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