Final results of the CAVE trial in RAS wild type metastatic colorectal cancer patients treated with cetuximab plus avelumab as rechallenge therapy: Neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio predicts survival

Published:January 16, 2022DOI:



      High neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a poor prognostic factor in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Here we provide final results of CAVE mCRC trial, of cetuximab plus avelumab rechallenge in chemo-refractory mCRC patients and investigated the predictive role of NLR.


      All the 77 patients enrolled were included in the analysis. A cut-off of 3 was used to correlate baseline NLR with with overall survival (OS) and with progression free survival (PFS), in intention to treat (ITT) and in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) RAS/BRAF Wild Type (WT) patients.


      In ITT population, NLR <3 (49%) group had median overall survival (mOS) of 17.8 months, vs. 8.9 months in NLR ≥ 3 group (51%) [HR 0.50, (CI 95% 0.3-0.8), P = .006]. Median progression free survival (mPFS) was 3.9 months in NLR <3 group and 3.5 months in NLR≥3 [HR 0.79, (CI 95% 0.5-1.24), P = .3]. In ctDNA RAS/BRAF WT population, mOS was 22 months in NLR <3 group (48%), vs. 8.9 months in NLR ≥3 group (52%), [HR 0.38, (CI 95% 0.19-0.75), P = .005]. A trend towards increased mPFS was observed in patients with NLR <3 versus NLR ≥3: 5.3 vs. 3.6 months [HR: 0.79, (CI 95% 0.44-1.4), P = .43]. In contrast, NLR did not correlate either with PFS or OS in ctDNA RAS/BRAF mutated patients.


      In the exploratory analysis of the CAVE mCRC trial, baseline NLR <3 significantly correlated with improved survival and may represent a potential predictive biomarker of cetuximab plus avelumab rechallenge activity in ctDNA RAS/BRAF WT patients, that must be confirmed in randomized studies.


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