Second-Line Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: New Developments for Tumours Not Harbouring Targetable Oncogenic Driver Mutations
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Platinum-based doublet chemotherapy with or without bevacizumab is the standard of care for the initial management of advanced and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) without a targetable molecular abnormality. However, the majority of patients with NSCLC will ultimately develop resistance to initial platinum-based chemotherapy, and many remain candidates for subsequent lines of therapy. Randomised trials over the past 10-15 years have established pemetrexed (non-squamous histology), docetaxel, erlotinib and gefitinib as approved second-line agents in NSCLC without targetable driver mutations or rearrangements. Trials comparing these agents with other chemotherapy, evaluating the addition of an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) to chemotherapy or the addition of another targeted agent to erlotinib or gefitinib have all failed to demonstrate an improvement in overall survival for patients with NSCLC. In contrast, recent data comparing therapy with novel monoclonal antibodies against programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) or PD ligand (PD-L1) pathway versus standard chemotherapy following platinum failure have demonstrated significant improvements in overall survival. Therapy with nivolumab or pembrolizumab would now be considered standard second-line therapy in patients without contraindication to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Atezolizumab also appears promising in this setting.
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