Clinical pattern of failure after a durable response to immune check inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer patients

Ja Yoon Heo, Shin Hye Yoo, Koung Jin Suh, Se Hyun Kim, Yu Jung Kim, Chan Young Ock, Miso Kim, Bhumsuk Keam, Tae Min Kim, Dong Wan Kim, Dae Seog Heo, Jong Seok Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can induce durable responses in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, a significant proportion of responders still experience progressive disease after a period of response. Limited data are available on the clinical patterns of acquired resistance (AR) to ICIs. Clinical and radiologic data from 125 NSCLC patients treated with anti-PD-1 or PD-L1 antibodies between 2011 and 2018 at two tertiary academic institutions were retrospectively reviewed. Overall, 63 (50.4%) patients experienced AR after ICI treatment in a median of 10.7 months. Among the 13 patients with a partial response with ICI, 12 (32.4%) had only lymph node progression. Most patients (n = 52, 82.5%) had one or two sites with progression (oligo-progression). The median overall survival (OS) after progression was significantly longer in the extrathoracic group than in the thoracic and liver progression groups (30.2 months [95% confidence interval (CI), 13.4 to not reached (NR)], 11.7 months [95% CI, 9.5–21.1], and 5.4 months [95% CI, 2.6-NR], respectively, P < 0.001). Patients with oligo-progression had significantly longer OS after AR than did the multi-progression patients (18.9 months [95% CI, 10.6-NR] vs. 8.8 months [95% CI, 5.7-NR], P = 0.04). No significant difference in progression-free survival was observed between the subsequent chemotherapy and the ICI after AR groups (P = 0.723). Patients with AR after ICI treatment had a unique progression pattern with oligo-progression and high rates of progression only in the lymph nodes. Local treatment and/or continuation of ICIs beyond AR might be an effective option.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2514
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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