Impact of cancer cachexia on the therapeutic outcome of combined chemoimmunotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a retrospective study

Oncoimmunology. 2021 Jul 8;10(1):1950411. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2021.1950411. eCollection 2021.


Although previous studies suggest that cancer cachexia is a poor prognostic factor for immune checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy, the impact of cancer cachexia on chemoimmunotherapy is unclear. We investigated the impact of cancer cachexia on the therapeutic outcomes of chemoimmunotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We retrospectively analyzed patients' medical records with NSCLC who received chemoimmunotherapy in 12 institutions in Japan between January and November 2019. We defined cancer cachexia as weight loss exceeding 5% of the total body weight or a body mass index of < 20 kg/m2 and weight loss of more than 2% of the total body weight within 6 months before chemoimmunotherapy initiation, with laboratory results exceeding reference values. This study enrolled 235 patients with NSCLC, among whom 196 were eligible for analysis, and 50 (25.5%) met the criteria for cachexia diagnosis. Patients with cancer cachexia had a significantly higher frequency of a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression of ≥ 50% (48%, p = .01) and shorter progression-free survival (PFS; log-rank test: p = .04) than patients without cachexia. There was no significant difference in overall survival (OS) between the cachexia and no-cachexia groups (log-rank test: p = .14). In the PD-L1 ≥ 50% population, there was no significant difference in PFS and OS (log-rank test: p = .19 and p = .79, respectively) between patients with NSCLC in the cachexia or no-cachexia groups. Cancer cachexia might be a poor prognostic factor in patients with NSCLC receiving chemoimmunotherapy.

Keywords: Non-small cell lung cancer; cancer cachexia; chemoimmunotherapy; immune checkpoint inhibitor; programmed death-ligand 1; retrospective analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / complications
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms* / complications
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Retrospective Studies

Grant support

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.