• Press Release

Immunotherapy After Surgery Is Shown to Reduce Deadly Relapse Risk in Advanced Bladder Cancer

Clinical trial results point to change in care of patients with high risk of metastatic recurrence

  • New York, NY
  • (June 02, 2021)

A phase 3 clinical trial co-led by Mount Sinai researchers is the first to show that immunotherapy after surgery to remove bladder cancer can reduce the risk of relapse for patients who are at high risk of their cancer returning in a deadly metastatic form, according to results published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The immunotherapy nivolumab was used as an adjuvant therapy, which is given after surgery in the hopes of maximizing its effectiveness.

The randomized trial, named ”Checkmate 274,” showed that using nivolumab increased these patients’ chance of staying cancer free after surgery compared to patients who received a placebo. The average length of time before relapse nearly doubled in patients who received nivolumab, which is a monoclonal antibody immune checkpoint inhibitor that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.

Surgery that removes the bladder or kidney and ureter is currently the standard of care for patients with urothelial cancer that has entered surrounding muscle or lymph nodes, though half of these patients later relapse with lethal metastatic cancer. Unfortunately for these patients, no consensus has emerged regarding treatments after surgery that might reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

“These clinical trial results promise to impact standard treatment of patients with urothelial cancer of the kidney, ureter, or bladder by reducing the risk of metastatic recurrence after surgery,” said Matthew Galsky, MD, senior author of the study and Director of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Bladder Cancer, Associate Director of Translational Research, and Co-Leader of the Cancer Clinical Investigation Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Almost 200,000 people die each year of urothelial cancer worldwide, so advances like immunotherapy being used in this manner bring hope.”

A total of 709 patients were part of the trial; half received nivolumab and the other half received placebo every two weeks for one year. The vast majority of patients who received nivolumab had no impact on their quality of life. This trial was conducted with support from Bristol Myers Squibb, the maker of the immunotherapy, in collaboration with ONO Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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