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Safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer: before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

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.

PMID:35834010 | DOI:10.1007/s00432-022-04181-0

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