Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma with early metastatic potential. The standard-of-care treatment has not changed in years. Recent studies report improved progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) with combined ICI and chemotherapy in ES-SCLC. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the magnitude of survival benefits. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane between 1 January 2010 and 15 July 2022 and conference proceedings from 2018 to 2022, for randomised controlled trials, evaluating chemo-ICI compared with platinum-doublet chemotherapy in untreated ES-SCLC. Outcomes assessed were PFS, OS, objective response rate (ORR), duration of response (DoR), toxicity, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The search identified 8061 studies, with 8 (56 publications) included in the final analysis. PFS and OS were significantly improved for patients randomised to chemo-ICI (PFS hazard ratio (HR) 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70-0.80) and (OS HR 0.79, 95% CI 0.73-0.85). Subgroup analysis demonstrated a differential effect between PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors. There was no difference in ORR and DoR. All-grade adverse events (RR 1.06, 95% CI 1.00-1.12) were similar. The addition of ICI to chemotherapy in untreated ES-SCLC results in a 22% risk reduction in death, and a 25% risk reduction in disease progression with a minimal increase in toxicity. These improvements are modest but represent progress beyond the standard of care.
Keywords: SCLC; chemo-immunotherapy; chemotherapy; extensive stage; immunotherapy.