Phase II Study of Maintenance Pembrolizumab in Patients with Extensive-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of maintenance pembrolizumab in patients with extensive-stage SCLC after treatment with platinum and etoposide.

Methods:

Patients with extensive-stage SCLC with a response or stable disease after induction chemotherapy were eligible. Pembrolizumab at a dose of 200 mg administered intravenously every 3 weeks was initiated within 8 weeks of the last cycle of chemotherapy. The primary end point of the study was progression-free survival (PFS) from study registration, with overall survival (OS) as a key secondary end point. Available tumor tissue was assessed for expression of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) both in the tumor cells and in the surrounding stroma. Blood for circulating tumor cells was collected before the first, second, and third cycles of pembrolizumab.

Results:

Of the 45 patients enrolled, 56% were male and 22% had treated brain metastases. The median PFS was 1.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3–2.8), with a 1-year PFS of 13%. The median OS was 9.6 months (95% CI: 7.0–12), with a 1-year OS of 37%. Of the 30 tumors that could be assessed, three had PD-L1 expression (≥1%) in the tumor cells. A total of 20 tumors could be assessed for PD-L1 expression in the stroma. The median PFS in the eight patients with tumors positive for expression of PD-L1 at the stromal interface was 6.5 months (95% CI: 1.1–12.8) compared with 1.3 months (95% CI: 0.6–2.5) in 12 patients with tumors negative for this marker. No unexpected toxicities were observed.

Conclusion:

Maintenance pembrolizumab did not appear to improve median PFS compared with the historical data. However, the 1-year PFS rate of 13% and OS rate of 37% suggest that a subset of patients did benefit from pembrolizumab.

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