Advances in the treatment of postoperative recurrence of non-small cell lung cancer and their impact on survival in Asian patients

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Aug 25;S0022-5223(22)00903-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2022.08.014. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: We investigated the effect of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and immunotherapy on survival after postoperative recurrence of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods: This single-center retrospective study included patients with NSCLC who underwent lobectomy or more with complete pathological resection between 2008 and 2018 (N = 2254). Median follow-up was 5.1 years. Survival trends and the effect of TKIs/immunotherapy were analyzed using Joinpoint (National Cancer Institute) and Cox regression.

Results: In 443 (19.7%) postoperative recurrences, median time to recurrence was 1.1 years; epidermal growth factor receptor mutation (EGFR+), 191 (43.1%); anaplastic lymphoma kinase rearrangement (ALK+), 13 (2.9%); not detected or unknown (ND), 239 (54.0%). In multivariable analysis, age, time to recurrence, adenocarcinoma, symptomatic recurrence, any treatment for recurrence, use of the epidermal growth factor receptor TKI, use of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase TKI, and use of immunotherapy were significant prognostic factors. Survival was significantly better in the EGFR+/ALK+ group than in the ND group (median, 4.7 vs 2.1 years; P < .01). Between 2010 and 2018, 2-year postrecurrence survival improved significantly (annual percentage change [APC], 4.2; 95% CI, 1.5-7.0). In subset analyses, neither change in 2-year survival nor TKI use was significant over time in the EGFR+/ALK+ group, but the ND group experienced significant improvement in 2-year survival (APC, 13.5; 95% CI, 5.4-22.2) and increasing trend in immunotherapy use (APC, 23.0; 95% CI, -5.9 to 60) after 2013.

Conclusions: Survival after postoperative recurrence of NSCLC has improved significantly since 2010. Use of immunotherapy in patients without driver mutations may have contributed to that improvement. Prognosis in patients with driver mutations remains favorable with the TKIs introduced before the study period.

Keywords: immunotherapy; non–small cell lung cancer; postoperative recurrence; targeted therapy.