The clinicopathological features and prognosis of primary pulmonary lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2020 Oct 16;15(10):e0240729. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240729. eCollection 2020.


Background: Primary pulmonary lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma (PPLELC) was a sparse subtype of unclassified lung cancer. The clinicopathologic features, prognostic factors and multimodality treatment regimens of LELC remain inconclusive. We conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis to address this deficit in current knowledge.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science to filtrate studies investigating on clinical features and prognostic factors of LELC up to Sep 9th, 2020. Fixed and random effect models were generated to present the incorporated hazard ratios (HR) and odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). The quality and heterogeneity of the included studies were also evaluated carefully.

Results: This systematic review and meta-analysis included 13 retrospective studies with a total of 1294 patients. The incidence of programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in PPLELC varied from 63.3% to 75.8%. Positive PD-L1 expression was more likely to be found in patients under 60 years old (OR = 2.16, 95%CI: 1.19-3.89, P = 0.01) and was associated with worse disease-free survival (DFS) compared with negative PD-L1 expression (HR = 2.99, 95%CI: 1.23-7.28, P = 0.02). The pooled results showed that stage was the prognostic factor for both overall survival (OS) and DFS. Moreover, a significantly better outcome of PPLELC was observed in men (HR = 0.56, 95%CI: 0.33-0.95, P = 0.03) and patients who received radiation (HR = 0.46, 95%CI: 0.22-0.96, P = 0.04).

Conclusion: PD-L1 expression was high in PPLELC patients. It was significantly associated with age under 60 and the unfavorable DFS. Stage and gender could be the prognostic factor for OS. Radiation could be the effective therapy for PPLELC.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Publication Bias


  • B7-H1 Antigen

Grants and funding

This study is supported by the key research and development Program (2019YFS0335), Science & Technology Department of Sichuan Province.