TERT promoter mutations and other prognostic factors in patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma treated with an immune checkpoint inhibitor.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) can achieve durable responses in a subset of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (aUC). The use of tumor genomic profiling in clinical practice may help suggest biomarkers to identify patients most likely to benefit from ICI.


We undertook a retrospective analysis of patients treated with an ICI for aUC at a large academic medical center. Patient clinical and histopathological variables were collected. Responses to treatment were assessed for all patients with at least one post-baseline scan or clear evidence of clinical progression following treatment start. Genomic profiling information was also collected for patients when available. Associations between patient clinical/genomic characteristics and objective response were assessed by logistic regression; associations between the characteristics and progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were examined by Cox regression. Multivariable analyses were performed to identify independent prognostic factors.

We identified 119 aUC patients treated with an ICI from December 2014 to January 2020. Genomic profiling was available for 78 patients. Overall response rate to ICI was 29%, and median OS (mOS) was 13.4 months. Favorable performance status at the start of therapy was associated with improved OS (HR 0.46, p=0.025) after accounting for other covariates. Similarly, the presence of a TERT promoter mutation was an independent predictor of improved PFS (HR 0.38, p=0.012) and OS (HR 0.32, p=0.037) among patients who had genomic profiling available. Patients with both a favorable performance status and a TERT promoter mutation had a particularly good prognosis with mOS of 21.1 months as compared with 7.5 months in all other patients (p=0.03).

The presence of a TERT promoter mutation was an independent predictor of improved OS in a cohort of aUC patients treated with an ICI who had genomic data available. Most of the clinical and laboratory variables previously shown to be prognostic in aUC patients treated with chemotherapy did not have prognostic value among patients treated with an ICI. Genomic profiling may provide important prognostic information and affect clinical decision making in this patient population. Validation of these findings in prospective patient cohorts is needed.

Journal for immunotherapy of cancer. 2021 May [Epub]

Ivan de Kouchkovsky, Li Zhang, Errol J Philip, Francis Wright, Daniel M Kim, Divya Natesan, Daniel Kwon, Hansen Ho, Son Ho, Emily Chan, Sima P Porten, Anthony C Wong, Arpita Desai, Franklin W Huang, Jonathan Chou, David Y Oh, Raj S Pruthi, Lawrence Fong, Eric J Small, Terence W Friedlander, Vadim Koshkin

Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA., University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California, USA., University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, San Francisco, California, USA., Pathology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA., Urology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA., Radiation Oncology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA., Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA .

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