Phase II Study of Gemcitabine and Split-Dose Cisplatin Plus Pembrolizumab as Neoadjuvant Therapy Before Radical Cystectomy in Patients With Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer.

To evaluate the safety and efficacy of gemcitabine and cisplatin in combination with the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab as neoadjuvant therapy before radical cystectomy (RC) in muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

Patients with clinical T2-4aN0/XM0 muscle-invasive bladder cancer eligible for RC were enrolled. The initial six patients received lead-in pembrolizumab 200 mg once 2 weeks prior to pembrolizumab 200 mg once on day 1, cisplatin 70 mg/m2 once on day 1, and gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2 once on days 1 and 8 every 21 days for four cycles. This schedule was discontinued for toxicity and subsequent patients received cisplatin 35 mg/m2 once on days 1 and 8 without lead-in pembrolizumab. The primary end point was pathologic downstaging (< pT2N0) with null and alternative hypothesis rates of 35% and 55%, respectively. Secondary end points were toxicity including patient-reported outcomes, complete pathologic response (pT0N0), event-free survival, and overall survival. Association of pathologic downstaging with programmed cell death ligand 1 staining was explored.

Thirty-nine patients were enrolled between June 2016 and March 2020 (72% cT2, 23% cT3, and 5% cT4a). Patients received a median of four cycles of therapy. All patients underwent RC except one who declined. Twenty-two of 39 patients (56% [95% CI, 40 to 72]) achieved < pT2N0 and 14 of 39 (36% [95% CI, 21 to 53]) achieved pT0N0. Most common adverse events (AEs) of any grade were thrombocytopenia (74%), anemia (69%), neutropenia (67%), and hypomagnesemia (67%). One patient had new-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus with ketoacidosis related to pembrolizumab and no patients required steroids for immune-related AEs. Clinicians consistently under-reported AEs when compared with patients.

Neoadjuvant gemcitabine and cisplatin plus pembrolizumab met its primary end point for improved pathologic downstaging and was generally safe. A global study of perioperative chemotherapy plus pembrolizumab or placebo is ongoing.

Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2021 Aug 24 [Epub ahead of print]

Tracy L Rose, Michael R Harrison, Allison M Deal, Sundhar Ramalingam, Young E Whang, Blaine Brower, Mary Dunn, Chelsea K Osterman, Hillary M Heiling, Marc A Bjurlin, Angela B Smith, Matthew E Nielsen, Hung-Jui Tan, Eric Wallen, Michael E Woods, Daniel George, Tian Zhang, Anthony Drier, William Y Kim, Matthew I Milowsky

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC., Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC., Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.