HumanInsight Safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer: before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2022 Jul 14. doi: 10.1007/s00432-022-04181-0. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: The COVID-19 pandemic changed diagnostic and treatment pathways in oncology. We compared the safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab amongst advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with a PD-L1 tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥ 50% before and during the pandemic.
METHODS: Advanced NSCLC patients initiating pembrolizumab between June 2015 and December 2019 ("pre-pandemic cohort") and between March 2020 and March 2021 ("pandemic cohort") at BC Cancer were identified retrospectively. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated risk factors for immune-related adverse events (irAE) ≥ grade 3 at the 6 week, 3 month, and 6 month landmarks. Cox regression models of overall survival (OS) were constructed.
RESULTS: The study population comprised 417 patients in the pre-pandemic cohort and 111 patients in the pandemic cohort. Between March and May 2020, 48% fewer advanced NSCLC cases with PD-L1 TPS ≥ 50% were diagnosed compared to similar intervals in 2018-2019. Telemedicine assessment [new patient consultations (p < 0.001) and follow-up (p < 0.001)] and extended interval pembrolizumab dosing (p < 0.001) were more common in the pandemic cohort. Patients initiating pembrolizumab after February 2020 (vs. before January 2020) experienced similar odds of developing severe irAE. 2/111 (1.8%) patients receiving pembrolizumab during the pandemic tested positive for COVID-19. On multivariable analysis, no association between pembrolizumab treatment period (before vs. during the COVID-19 pandemic) and OS was observed (p = 0.18).
CONCLUSION: Significant changes in healthcare delivery in response to the pandemic did not result in increased high grade toxicity or lower survival outcomes in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with pembrolizumab.
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