Real-world progression, treatment, and survival outcomes during rapid adoption of immunotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Cancer. 2019 Nov 15;125(22):4019-4032. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32383. Epub 2019 Aug 5.


Background: Despite the rapid adoption of immunotherapies in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (advNSCLC), knowledge gaps remain about their real-world (rw) performance.

Methods: This retrospective, observational, multicenter analysis used the Flatiron Health deidentified electronic health record-derived database of rw patients with advNSCLC who received treatment with PD-1 and/or PD-L1 (PD-[L]1) inhibitors before July 1, 2017 (N = 5257) and had ≥6 months of follow-up. The authors investigated PD-(L)1 line of treatment and PD-L1 testing rates and the relationship between overall survival (OS) and rw intermediate endpoints: progression-free survival (rwPFS), rw time to progression (rwTTP), rw time to next treatment (rwTTNT), and rw time to discontinuation (rwTTD).

Results: First-line PD-(L)1 inhibitor use increased from 0% (in the third quarter of 2014 [Q3 2014]) to 42% (Q2 2017) over the study period. PD-L1 testing also increased (from 3% in Q3 2015 to 70% in Q2 2017). The estimated median OS was 9.3 months (95% CI, 8.9-9.8 months), and the estimated rwPFS was 3.2 months (95% CI, 3.1-3.3 months). Longer OS and rwPFS were associated with ≥50% PD-L1 percentage staining results. Correlations (⍴) between OS and intermediate endpoints were ⍴ = 0.75 (95% CI, 0.73-0.76) for rwPFS and ⍴ = 0.60 (95% CI, 0.57-0.63) for rwTTP, and, for treatment-based intermediate endpoints, correlations were ⍴ = 0.60 (95% CI, 0.56-0.64) for rwTTNT (N = 856) and ⍴ = 0.81 (95% CI, 0.80-0.82) for rwTTD.

Conclusions: The use of first-line PD-(L)1 inhibitors and PD-L1 testing has substantially increased, with better outcomes for patients who have ≥50% PD-L1 percentage staining. Intermediate rw tumor-dynamics estimates were moderately correlated with OS in patients with advNSCLC who received immunotherapy, highlighting the need for optimizing and standardizing rw endpoints to enhance the understanding of patient outcomes outside clinical trials.

Keywords: PD-1; PD-L1; endpoints; immunotherapy; non-small cell lung cancer; real-world.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor

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