Etoposide and a platinum drug (such as cisplatin or carboplatin) is the standard chemotherapy regimen for extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), but many patients still succumb to the disease. The purpose of this study is to see if adding the drug ipilimumab to etoposide/platinum therapy is more effective than the standard therapy alone in patients newly diagnosed with advanced SCLC.
Ipilimumab is approved for treating advanced melanoma, but its use in this study is considered investigational. Ipilimumab is an antibody against CTLA-4, a molecule that controls a part of the immune system by shutting it down. Researchers believe that one way cancers can escape the immune system could be through this shut-down mechanism. An antibody against CTLA-4 could stop it from turning off the immune system, and allow an immune reaction to continue. This immune reaction may help the body to destroy cancer cells.
Patients in this study will be randomly assigned to receive etoposide/platinum therapy with ipilimumab or etoposide/platinum therapy alone.