Pembrolizumab monotherapy for high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer without carcinoma in situ and unresponsive to BCG (KEYNOTE-057): a single-arm, multicentre, phase 2 trial

Lancet Oncol. 2024 Jun;25(6):720-730. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(24)00178-5. Epub 2024 May 10.


Background: The KEYNOTE-057 trial evaluated activity and safety of pembrolizumab in patients with BCG-unresponsive high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer who were ineligible for or declined radical cystectomy. In cohort A (patients with carcinoma in situ, with or without papillary tumours) of the KEYNOTE-057 study, pembrolizumab monotherapy led to a complete response rate of 41% at 3 months, and 46% of responders maintained a response lasting at least 12 months. Here, we evaluate pembrolizumab monotherapy in cohort B of patients with papillary tumours without carcinoma in situ.

Methods: KEYNOTE-057 is a single-arm, phase 2 study in 54 sites (hospitals and cancer centres) in 14 countries. Cohort B eligible patients were aged 18 years and older, had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-2, and had BCG-unresponsive high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer with papillary tumours (high-grade Ta or any-grade T1) without carcinoma in situ. Transurethral resection of bladder tumour within 12 weeks of first pembrolizumab dose was required. Patients received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously every 3 weeks for a maximum of 35 cycles. Primary endpoint was 12-month disease-free survival of high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer or progressive disease as assessed by cystoscopy, cytology, and central pathology and radiology review. Activity was assessed in all patients who received at least one dose of the study drug and had a baseline evaluation. Safety was assessed in all patients who received at least one dose of the study drug. This trial is registered with number, NCT02625961, and is ongoing.

Findings: Between April 12, 2016, and June 17, 2021, 132 patients (104 [79%] men and 28 [21%] women) who had received a median of ten (IQR 9-15) previous BCG instillations were enrolled into cohort B of the study. Patients received a median of 10 cycles (IQR 6-27) of pembrolizumab. At data cutoff date, Oct 20, 2022, median follow-up was 45·4 months (IQR 36·4-59·3) and five (4%) of 132 patients remained on treatment. The 12-month disease-free survival was 43·5% (95% CI 34·9-51·9). Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 97 (73%) of 132 patients; 19 (14%) had a grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse event; the most common grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events were colitis (in three [2%] patients) and diarrhoea (in two [2%]). 17 (13%) of 132 patients experienced serious treatment-related adverse events, of which colitis (three patients [2%]) was most common. No treatment-related deaths occurred.

Interpretation: Pembrolizumab monotherapy showed antitumour activity and manageable toxicity in patients with BCG-unresponsive high-risk Ta or T1 bladder cancer without carcinoma in situ and could potentially be a suitable treatment option for patients who decline or are ineligible for radical cystectomy. Findings will need to be confirmed in a randomised controlled trial.

Funding: Merck Sharp & Dohme.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use
  • BCG Vaccine* / administration & dosage
  • BCG Vaccine* / adverse effects
  • BCG Vaccine* / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma in Situ / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Neoplasms
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • pembrolizumab
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological

Associated data