Immunotherapy is a newer treatment method for mesothelioma, and many recent studies have shown it to be highly effective in destroying cancer and improving survival.

Mesothelioma immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune response so it can kill more cancer. An April 2024 review of various studies published in the journal Open Respiratory Archives noted the benefits of immunotherapy as a treatment for mesothelioma.

The comprehensive review noted that:

  • A type of immunotherapy drug called immune checkpoint inhibitors set a new standard of care for mesothelioma patients and can help improve long-term survival.
  • Mesothelioma immunotherapy can be used as a first-line (initial) treatment or second-line (follow-up) treatment.
  • Many newer immunotherapies are being tested in clinical trials for mesothelioma.

Several studies have shown that immunotherapy can effectively destroy tumors, giving patients diagnosed with mesothelioma greater hope for the future.

Download our Free Immunotherapy Guide to see how this exciting new treatment could help you or a loved one.

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Opdivo® and Yervoy®: Setting a New Benchmark in Mesothelioma Treatment

The Open Respiratory Archives review noted that a major immunotherapy breakthrough occurred in 2020 with the CheckMate 743 trial. In this trial, the combination of nivolumab (Opdivo®) and ipilimumab (Yervoy®) improved survival in mesothelioma patients when used as a first-line treatment.

These medications are immune checkpoint inhibitors, which work by blocking proteins that mesothelioma cells use to hide from immune T cells that naturally want to kill cancer.

Patients who received Opdivo and Yervoy had a:

  • 2-year survival rate of 41%, while chemotherapy patients had a 2-year survival rate of 27%
  • Median life expectancy of 18.1 months, compared to 14.1 months for those getting chemotherapy
  • Overall survival rate of 23%, compared to 15% in the chemotherapy group

The results of this trial led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve Opdivo and Yervoy as a treatment for pleural mesothelioma (which forms in the lung lining).

Researchers continue to study Opdivo and Yervoy in treating mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma patients who received Yervoy and Opdivo had a progression-free survival of 5.5 months (meaning the cancer stopped growing) in a 2024 study published in Lung Cancer.

We can help you find mesothelioma doctors who can determine whether Opdivo, Yervoy, or other immunotherapies could help you live longer. Sign up for our Free Doctor Match service today.

Keytruda®: Another Addition to the Mesothelioma Treatment Toolbox

Another checkpoint inhibitor called pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) was approved as a second-line treatment for certain cases of mesothelioma in 2020.

Keytruda is also slated for FDA priority review as a first-line mesothelioma treatment by September 24, 2024, following encouraging results from the KEYNOTE-483 trial.

Did You Know?

The KEYNOTE-483 trial showed that Keytruda helped patients achieve a 3-year survival rate of 25%. The 3-year survival rate was only 17% in patients who received chemotherapy.

Keytruda was also more effective in treating mesothelioma in this study. The response rate (percent of patients whose cancer shrank) was 68% with Keytruda, while with chemotherapy it was just 38%.

In addition, the phase II IND.227 trial from 2023 showed that combining Keytruda with chemotherapy resulted in a median survival of 19.8 months, compared to 8.9 months for chemotherapy alone.

New Immunotherapies for Mesothelioma Show Promise

Outside of FDA-approved immunotherapies, the Open Respiratory Archives review noted that more immunotherapy drugs are being studied in mesothelioma clinical trials. The success rate of immunotherapy for mesothelioma is high in many of these trials.

Newer immunotherapies in clinical trials include:

  • Atezolizumab (Tecentriq®): A 2021 report published in Cancer Discovery reported that peritoneal mesothelioma patients treated with Tecentriq had a 1-year survival rate of 85%.
  • Avelumab (Bavencio®): A 2023 study noted that patients treated with Bavencio and radiation lived an average of 1 year. This was a second-line treatment, meaning all the patients had already received treatments, but they had stopped working.
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin®): The ongoing BEAT-meso trial is comparing a combination of Avastin, Tecentriq, and chemotherapy to just Avastin and chemotherapy in treating mesothelioma.
  • Durvalumab (Imfinzi®): In the 2021 PrE0505 study, durvalumab (Imfinzi) with platinum-based chemotherapy and then follow-up Imfinzi as maintenance therapy resulted in a 1-year survival rate of 70% and an overall survival of 21.1 months.
  • Tremelimumab (Imjudo®): In a 2023 Baylor College of Medicine trial, pleural mesothelioma patients lived longer when Imjudo and Imfinzi were used together compared to those treated with only Imfinzi.

The Open Respiratory Archives study authors noted that many of these immunotherapies are being used in combination with each other and other mesothelioma treatments for best results.

Get Help Accessing Mesothelioma Immunotherapies

Immunotherapy is very effective in extending mesothelioma life expectancy and slowing disease progression, offering better treatment outcomes for patients. Mesothelioma Hope may be able to help you or a loved one access immunotherapy for mesothelioma.

To find out if mesothelioma immunotherapies will be effective in your case:

  1. Call (866) 608-8933 to speak to our Patient Advocates and registered nurses.
  2. Tell them about your diagnosis and ask if immunotherapy could help.
  3. Work with our team to connect with top mesothelioma doctors who use immunotherapy.

“My foremost priority is ensuring patients grasp their diagnosis, empowering them to make informed health care decisions.”

- Quote from Jenna Tozzi, RN, Director of Patient Advocacy for Mesothelioma Hope

Reach out for help now or download our Free Immunotherapy Guide to learn more about this powerful treatment and if it could help you.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. López-Castro, R., et al. (2024, April 5). Advances in Immunotherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: From Emerging Strategies to Translational Insights. Retrieved June 6, 2024, from
  2. Lee, H., et al. (2023, February 1). A Phase II Window of Opportunity Study of Neoadjuvant PD-L1 versus PD-L1 plus CTLA-4 Blockade for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved June 6, 2024, from
  3. Rimner, A., et al. (January 2023). A Phase 1 Safety Study of Avelumab Plus Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved June 6, 2024, from
  4. Raghav, K., et al. (2021, November 1). Efficacy, Safety, and Biomarker Analysis of Combined PD-L1 (Atezolizumab) and VEGF (Bevacizumab) Blockade in Advanced Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Retrieved June 6, 2024, from

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