No head-to-head clinical trials compare contemporary first-line therapies for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). A network meta-analysis provides an approach for quantitative analysis.

To indirectly compare the efficacy and safety of first-line treatments for mRCC in the intention-to-treat (ITT) population and by clinical risk group.

An updated systematic review from database inception to February 17, 2019 identified all parallel-group randomized controlled trials assessing first-line therapy for mRCC. “Clinically relevant” studies were selected for a network meta-analysis. Progression-free survival (PFS) was the primary outcome. Overall survival (OS), overall response rate (ORR), and grade 3 and 4 adverse events (AEs) were secondary outcomes.

We identified 12 relevant trials: 12 reported outcomes for PFS, nine for OS, 10 for ORR, and nine for AEs. In the ITT population, cabozantinib (surface under the cumulative ranking curves [SUCRA] 84%), avelumab plus axitinib (SUCRA 68%), and pembrolizumab plus axitinib (SUCRA 82%) were superior to the other agents for PFS; pembrolizumab plus axitinib appeared superior for OS (SUCRA 95%); and atezolizumab demonstrated the lowest likelihood of AEs (SUCRA 100%). Findings were similar in the intermediate/poor-risk subgroup. Based on the limited data available, avelumab plus axitinib may be preferred in patients with favorable-risk disease.

The optimal first-line treatment for mRCC appears to differ by efficacy endpoint, toxicity, and clinical risk group. Direct comparative studies remain important in guiding treatment choice.

Head-to-head comparisons do not exist for the newest treatments of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). In an indirect comparison, we found that pembrolizumab plus axitinib and cabozantinib are good options for most patients with mRCC.

European urology oncology. 2019 Oct 04 [Epub ahead of print]

Andrew W Hahn, Zachary Klaassen, Neeraj Agarwal, Benjamin Haaland, John Esther, Xiang Y Ye, Xuechen Wang, Sumanta K Pal, Christopher J D Wallis

Division of Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA., Division of Urology, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA; Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta, GA, USA., MiCare Research Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada., Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA, USA., Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.