Nivolumab for the treatment of small cell lung cancer

Ester Simeone, Antonio Maria Grimaldi, Lucia Festino, Claudia Trojaniello, Maria Grazia Vitale, Vito Vanella, Marcello Curvietto, Paolo Antonio Ascierto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Treatment of extensive-stage SCLC is still a challenge but immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors is showing promising results. Nivolumab alone or in combination with ipilimumab has demonstrated a benefit in terms of response and survival in patients with pre-treated extensive-stage disease and has been approved as third-line therapy after failure of chemotherapy. However, data from two phase III trials with nivolumab are negative. In the first trial, nivolumab was administered as a single agent compared to second-line chemotherapy, while in the second it was given alone or in combination with ipilimumab as maintenance treatment after platinum-based chemotherapy. Areas covered: Our review focuses on the role of immunotherapy, and in particular nivolumab, in the treatment of SCLC, describing the results of the main trials and its future perspectives, with reference to clinical trials with other checkpoint inhibitors. Expert opinion: The future of nivolumab in the treatment of SCLC needs to be clarified with further clinical trials, in which improved patient selection and a more specific setting and/or timepoint of the disease may be identified.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExpert Review of Respiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • antiPD1 inhibitors
  • antiPDL1 inhibitors
  • chemotherapy
  • Nivolumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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