A combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab improved overall survival when compared to either drug alone, according to results from a recent study reported at the American Association for Cancer Research 2017 annual meeting.

The phase III study involved 945 patients with advanced melanoma who had not received prior treatment for advanced disease. They were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to nivolumab + ipilimumb, nivolumab + placebo, or ipilimumab + placebo. Two-year overall survival was highest among patients receiving the combination treatment (64%), followed by nivolumab (59%) and ipilimumab (45%). In descriptive analyses, patients receiving the combination treatment had a 12% lower risk of death.

Frequency of grade 3 or 4 adverse events was higher with the combination treatment than with patients receiving nivolumab or ipilimumab with placebo (58%, 21%, and 28%, respectively). The most common side effects in the combination group were diarrhea/colitis and hepatitis and were generally manageable.

The researchers noted that the study is still ongoing and that some endpoints had not yet been reached. Additional analyses are needed.