Nivolumab versus placebo as adjuvant therapy for resected stage III melanoma: a propensity weighted indirect treatment comparison and number needed to treat analysis for recurrence-free survival and overall survival

Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, 2022


Recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) data for adjuvant nivolumab versus placebo (proxy for routine surveillance) in patients with high-risk, resected melanoma are lacking. This post hoc, indirect treatment comparison (ITC) used pooled data from the phase 3 EORTC 18,071 (ipilimumab vs. placebo) and CheckMate 238 (nivolumab vs. ipilimumab) trials to assess RFS and OS with nivolumab versus placebo and the numbers needed to treat (NNT) over 4 years.


Patients with resected stage IIIB-C cutaneous melanoma (American Joint Committee on Cancer seventh edition) were included. Inverse probability treatment weighting (IPTW) was used to balance baseline characteristics. RFS NNTs were calculated for nivolumab versus ipilimumab and placebo. OS NNTs were calculated for nivolumab versus placebo. To adjust for different post-recurrence treatments, the difference in post-recurrence survival between the two ipilimumab arms was added to OS of the placebo arm.


This ITC included 278, 643, and 365 patients treated with nivolumab, ipilimumab, and placebo, respectively. Following IPTW, nivolumab was associated with improved RFS versus placebo (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39-0.61) and ipilimumab (HR: 0.69; 95% CI 0.56-0.85). RFS NNT was 4.2 for nivolumab versus placebo and 8.9 for nivolumab versus ipilimumab. After post-recurrence survival adjustment, weighted 4-year OS rates were 75.8% for nivolumab and 64.1% for placebo; OS NNT for nivolumab versus placebo was 8.5.


In patients with resected stage IIIB-C cutaneous melanoma in this ITC, nivolumab improved RFS versus placebo and ipilimumab, and OS versus placebo after post-recurrence survival adjustment.

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Weber JS, Poretta T, Stwalley BD, Sakkal LA, Du EX, Wang T, Chen YWang Y, Betts KA, Shoushtari AN