Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Patients With Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review
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Second-line treatment options are limited for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Standard therapy includes the cytotoxic agents docetaxel and pemetrexed, and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors erlotinib and gefitinib. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are a new class of treatment that have shown durable overall radiologic response rates and have been well tolerated. The objective of this systematic review was to investigate the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors compared with other chemotherapies in patients with advanced NSCLC. Medline, Embase, and PubMed were searched for randomized controlled trials comparing treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors against treatment with chemotherapy in patients with stage IIIB or IV NSCLC. Nine randomized controlled trials with 15 publications were included. A significant overall survival benefit of second-line nivolumab (nonsquamous: hazard ratio [HR] = 0.72, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60-0.77; P < .001; squamous: HR = 0.59, 95% CI, 0.44-0.79; P < .001) or second-line atezolizumab (HR = 0.73, 95% CI, 0.62-0.87; P = .0003) or second-line pembrolizumab (in patients with programmed cell death ligand 1 [PD-L1]-positive tumors) (pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg HR = 0.71, 95% CI, 0.58-0.88; P = .0008; pembrolizumab 10 mg/kg HR = 0.61, 95% CI, 0.49-0.75; P < .0001) or first-line pembrolizumab (HR = 0.60, 95% CI, 0.41-0.89; P = .005) compared with chemotherapy was found. The adverse effects were mainly higher in the chemotherapy arms. For patients with advanced stage IIIB/IV NSCLC, the improvement in overall survival outweighed the harms and supported the use of first-line pembrolizumab (in patients with ≥ 50% PD-L1-positive tumors) or second-line nivolumab, atezolizumab, or pembrolizumab (in patients with PD-L1-positive tumors).
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