Safety of Combined PD-1 Pathway Inhibition and Intracranial Radiation Therapy in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

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Abstract

Introduction:

Intracranial metastases are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with advanced NSCLC, and are frequently managed with radiation therapy (RT). The safety of cranial RT in the setting of treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has not been established.

Methods:

We identified patients with advanced NSCLC with brain metastases who received cranial RT and were treated with or without programmed cell death 1/programmed death ligand 1 inhibitors between August 2013 and September 2016. RT-related adverse events (AEs) were retrospectively evaluated and analyzed according to ICI treatment status, cranial RT type, and timing of RT with respect to ICI.

Results:

Of 163 patients, 50 (31%) received ICIs, whereas 113 (69%) were ICI naive. Overall, 94 (58%), 28 (17%), and 101 (62%) patients received stereotactic radiosurgery, partial brain irradiation, and/or whole brain RT, respectively. Fifty percent of patients received more than one radiation course. We observed no significant difference in rates of all-grade AEs and grade 3 or higher AEs between the ICI-naive and ICI-treated patients across different cranial RT types (grade ≥3 AEs in 8% of ICI-naive patients versus in 9% of ICI-treated patients for stereotactic radiosurgery [p = 1.00] and in 8% of ICI-naive patients versus in 10% of ICI-treated patients for whole brain RT [p = 0.71]). Additionally, there was no difference in AE rates on the basis of timing of ICI administration with respect to RT.

Conclusions:

Treatment with an ICI and cranial RT was not associated with a significant increase in RT-related AEs, suggesting that use of programmed cell death 1/programmed death ligand 1 inhibitors in patients receiving cranial RT may have an acceptable safety profile. Nonetheless, additional studies are needed to validate this approach.

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