The present study aimed to evaluate the survival time, immune response and safety of a dendritic cell (DC) vaccine and cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cell therapy (DC-CIK) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The present retrospective study enrolled 507 patients with advanced NSCLC; 99 patients received DC-CIK [immunotherapy group (group I)] and 408 matched patients did not receive DC-CIK, and acted as the control [non-immunotherapy group (group NI)]. Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), quality of life (QOL) and safety were analyzed in group I. The follow-up period for the two groups was 489.2±160.4 days. The overall survival (OS) time was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. DTH was observed in 59 out of 97 evaluated patients (60.8%) and 67 out of 98 evaluated patients (68.4%) possessed an improved QOL. Fever and a skin rash occurred in 36 out of 98 patients (36.7%) and 7 out of 98 patients (7.1%) in group I. DTH occurred more frequently in patients with squamous cell carcinoma compared with patients with adenocarcinoma (77.1 vs. 40.4%; P=0.0013). Radiotherapy was not associated with DC-CIK-induced DTH (72.7 vs. 79.6%; P=0.18), but chemotherapy significantly reduced the rate of DTH (18.2 vs. 79.6%; P=0.00). The OS time was significantly increased in group I compared with group NI (P=0.03). In conclusion, DC-CIK may induce an immune response against NSCLC, improve the QOL, and prolong the OS time of patients, without adverse effects. Therefore, the present study recommends DC-CIK for the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC.
Keywords: cytokine-induced killer cells; dendritic cell vaccine; immunotherapy; non-small cell lung cancer.