A trial looking at nivolumab for non small cell lung cancer (CA209017)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer




Phase 3

This trial was looking at a drug called nivolumab to treat non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has grown into surrounding tissues or spread to another part of the body (advanced cancer). The people taking part had a type of NSCLC called squamous cell cancer.

More about this trial

Doctors usually treat advanced NSCLC with chemotherapy that includes platinum drugs Open a glossary item such as cisplatin or carboplatin. Unfortunately the cancer sometimes continues to grow, or comes back after treatment. If this happens, doctors may then use a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel.

In this trial, researchers were looking at a new drug called nivolumab to treat advanced (stage 3b or stage 4) squamous cell lung cancer.

Nivolumab is a type of biological therapy called a monoclonal antibody. It can help the body’s immune system to attack lung cancer cells.

This trial compared nivolumab with docetaxel. The aims were to find out

  • How well nivolumab works for people with advanced squamous NSCLC
  • More about the side effects

Summary of results

The researchers found that on average people who had nivolumab lived longer than people who had docetaxel.

This was a randomised trial. The people taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups by computer. Neither they nor their doctors could choose which group they were in. Of the 272 people who took part,

  • Half had nivolumab
  • Half had docetaxel

The trial team looked at the length of time people lived, with or without signs of their cancer getting worse. Researchers call this overall survival. They found that the average length of time people lived was

  • Just over 9 months (9.2) in the group who had nivolumab
  • 6 months in the group who had docetaxel

The side effects of nivolumab included tiredness (fatigue), loss of appetite and weakness. But the researchers found that people having nivolumab had fewer serious side effects than people having docetaxel.

The trial team concluded that nivolumab improved overall survival for people with advanced squamous cell lung cancer who had already had other treatments.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Christian Ottensmeier

Supported by

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network; Cancer

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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