Consolidation nivolumab and ipilimumab versus observation in limited-disease small-cell lung cancer after chemo-radiotherapy - results from the randomised phase II ETOP/IFCT 4-12 STIMULI trial

Ann Oncol. 2022 Jan;33(1):67-79. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2021.09.011. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Background: Concurrent chemotherapy and thoracic radiotherapy followed by prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) is the standard treatment in limited-disease small-cell lung cancer (LD-SCLC), with 5-year overall survival (OS) of only 25% to 33%.

Patients and methods: STIMULI is a 1:1 randomised phase II trial aiming to demonstrate superiority of consolidation combination immunotherapy versus observation after chemo-radiotherapy plus PCI (protocol amendment-1). Consolidation immunotherapy consisted of four cycles of nivolumab [1 mg/kg, every three weeks (Q3W)] plus ipilimumab (3 mg/kg, Q3W), followed by nivolumab monotherapy (240 mg, Q2W) for up to 12 months. Patient recruitment closed prematurely due to slow accrual and the statistical analyses plan was updated to address progression-free survival (PFS) as the only primary endpoint.

Results: Of the 222 patients enrolled, 153 were randomised (78: experimental; 75: observation). Among the randomised patients, median age was 62 years, 60% males, 34%/65% current/former smokers, 31%/66% performance status (PS) 0/1. Up to 25 May 2020 (median follow-up 22.4 months), 40 PFS events were observed in the experimental arm, with median PFS 10.7 months [95% confidence interval (CI) 7.0-not estimable (NE)] versus 42 events and median 14.5 months (8.2-NE) in the observation, hazard ratio (HR) = 1.02 (0.66-1.58), two-sided P = 0.93. With updated follow-up (03 June 2021; median: 35 months), median OS was not reached in the experimental arm, while it was 32.1 months (26.1-NE) in observation, with HR = 0.95 (0.59-1.52), P = 0.82. In the experimental arm, median time-to-treatment-discontinuation was only 1.7 months. CTCAE v4 grade ≥3 adverse events were experienced by 62% of patients in the experimental and 25% in the observation arm, with 4 and 1 fatal, respectively.

Conclusions: The STIMULI trial did not meet its primary endpoint of improving PFS with nivolumab-ipilimumab consolidation after chemo-radiotherapy in LD-SCLC. A short period on active treatment related to toxicity and treatment discontinuation likely affected the efficacy results.

Keywords: SCLC; ipilimumab; limited disease; nivolumab; randomised clinical trial; small-cell lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Chemoradiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ipilimumab / adverse effects
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nivolumab*


  • Ipilimumab
  • Nivolumab