For Localized NSCLC, Vaccine-Based Immunotherapy Does Not Affect Survival


Vaccine-based immunotherapy after surgery or radiotherapy did not increase survival in patients with localized non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (online December 16, 2017; doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011300.pub2).

“There have been a number of clinical trials over the years that have looked at whether immunotherapy helps patients live longer,” researchers wrote. “Some seemed to show a benefit, others did not.”

To investigate the issue, researchers analyzed nine randomized controlled trials involving almost 5000 patients who had received surgery or radiotherapy with curative intent for stage I-III NSCLC. Participants were randomized to receive immunotherapy or no further treatment.

Although researchers found small improvements in overall and progression-free survival, those improvements were not statistically significant. Data on 1-, 2-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates demonstrated no clear between-group differences. However, the evidence for 1- and 2-year survival rates was low quality, researchers noted.

“We did not find any results that could tell us whether the addition of immunotherapy improved the quality of life,” researchers wrote, “but it seemed that those who were given vaccine-based immunotherapy may have experienced, on average, more side effects.”


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The meta-analysis concluded that current evidence neither supports nor refutes providing vaccine-based immunotherapy to patients with localized NSCLC. Nevertheless, ongoing randomized controlled trials testing more promising checkpoint inhibitors may shed new insight on the value of immunotherapy for localized NSCLC when results are available.—Jolynn Tumolo