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Opdivo’s indication expanded to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2020.04.16 10:48
  • Updated 2020.04.16 10:48
  • comments 0

A new treatment option has become available in the local esophageal cancer treatment market, where only chemotherapies existed for more than 60 years.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Friday approved the use of BMS’ Opdivo (ingredient: nivolumab) to treat patients with unresectable advanced or recurrent esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) refractory or intolerant to fluoropyrimidine and platinum-based chemotherapy.

Esophageal cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from the inner mucous membrane of the esophagus and grows to the outer wall. The disease occurs in two types -- squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma.

East Asian countries, including Korea, have a high incidence of SCC.

In Korea, in particular, patients with unresectable advanced or recurrent esophageal cancer have had unmet clinical needs due to the lack of treatment options other than conventional chemotherapy.

According to Professor Cho Byung-chul of Yonsei Cancer Center, it was challenging to diagnose esophageal cancer early, and due to the anatomical characteristics of the esophagus, surgical treatment was difficult. Patients can choose non-surgical treatment and use a combination of chemo and radiotherapy, but recurrence rates were high. Advanced esophageal cancer is often unresectable with a rare treatment option, he added.

“It is encouraging that a new treatment emerged in the esophageal cancer treatment area, which has been stagnated over 60 years,” Cho said. “I’m pleased to be able to offer cancer patients an opportunity to use Opdivo, which improved overall survival and reduced death risk by 23 percent, thereby improving long-term survival and side effects.”

The nod for Opdivo’s widened indication was based on the results of the phase-3 ATTRACTION-3 study of Opdivo in 419 patients with unresectable advanced or recurrent ESCC who initially received fluoropyrimidine and platinum-based treatment.


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