The KEYNOTE-024 trial was recently published that will be a game-changer for the first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
In a certain subset of patients with PD-L1 expression over 50% (PD-L1 is a marker of immune activity within the tumor), patients were randomized to receive either standard chemotherapy or pembrolizumab (an immune therapy that targets programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Overall survival was improved by 40% for those patients that received pembolizumab versus those patients who received chemotherapy with a much high response rate as well. It is important to note, that this is only in the subset of patients with very high PD-L1 expression, which is approximately one-third of patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
This should certainly be tested for as soon as possible now and many of these patients will now receive immune therapy first as opposed to chemotherapy. It’s a very exciting time in treatment of lung cancer.