A trial of pembrolizumab for Hodgkin lymphoma (KEYNOTE 087)

Cancer type:

Blood cancers
Hodgkin lymphoma
Lymphoma

Status:

Results

Phase:

Phase 2

This trial looked at a drug called pembrolizumab. It was for people with Hodgkin lymphoma that had:

  • come back after treatment (relapse Open a glossary item)
  • continued to grow despite treatment (refractory Open a glossary item

More about this trial

This trial started in 2015 and these results came out in 2017. The team wanted to find out how well pembrolizumab worked and how safe it was for people who had already had one of the following:

  • a stem cell transplant and brentuximab which either hadn’t worked or had stopped working
  • people who weren’t suitable for a stem cell transplant and had had brentuximab which either didn’t work or had stopped working
  • people who had had a stem cell transplant and hadn’t had brentuximab  

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is a type of targeted cancer drug called a monoclonal antibody. It seeks cancer cells by looking for particular proteins. 

Pembrolizumab is already a treatment for people with other types of cancer, such as melanoma. But doctors wanted to find out if it can also help people with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma

Summary of results

The trial team concluded that pembrolizumab helps some people with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. 

This was an international phase 2 trial. 210 people who were having treatment for relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma for the 1st time took part. 

Everyone had treatment with pembrolizumab for as long as it helped them, and the side effects weren’t too bad. On average, people had pembrolizumab every 3 weeks for about 8 months. 

The trial team looked at how well pembrolizumab worked. To do this they looked at:

  • the number of people who had no sign of their cancer (complete response Open a glossary item)
  • the number of people whose cancer had shrunk (partial response Open a glossary item)

This is the overall response rate. Doctors found that 47 people had a complete response. And 98 people had a partial response. 

Doctors then concluded that the overall response rate was almost 70%. This means that almost 7 out of every 10 people (almost 70%) had a complete response or a partial response.  

The team also looked at the most common side effects people had. They were:

  • a thyroid problem called hypothyroidism Open a glossary item
  • high temperature (fever)
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • skin rash
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • feeling sick
  • cough
  • a drop in the number of white blood cells causing an increased risk of infection (neutropenia)

The trial team concluded that pembrolizumab helps some people with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. They think this is a safe treatment. Researchers are now comparing pembrolizumab with the cancer drug brentuximab. 

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us 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 team 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 John Radford

Supported by

Merck, Sharp & Dohme
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

13432

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

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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