Clinical definition of secondary resistance to immunotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer

Thorac Cancer. 2023 Dec;14(34):3421-3429. doi: 10.1111/1759-7714.15157. Epub 2023 Nov 14.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors (PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 blockade) have revolutionized the treatment landscape in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Secondary resistance to immunotherapy (IO), which poses a substantial challenge in clinical settings, occurs in several initial responders. Currently, new treatment approaches have been extensively evaluated in investigational studies for these patients to tackle this difficult problem; however, the lack of consistency in clinical definition, uniform criteria for enrollment in clinical trials, and interpretation of results remain significant hurdles to progress. Thus, our expert panel comprehensively synthesized data from current studies to propose a practical clinical definition of secondary resistance to immunotherapy in NSCLC in metastatic and neoadjuvant settings. In addition to patients who received IO alone (including IO-IO combinations), we also generated a definition for patients treated with chemotherapy plus IO. This consensus aimed to provide guidance for clinical trial design and facilitate future discussions with investigators. It should be noted that additional updates in this consensus are required when new data is available.

Keywords: NSCLC; immunotherapy; secondary resistance.

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy


  • B7-H1 Antigen