Skip to main content


Conference Coverage

Real-World Use of Pembrolizumab Plus Chemotherapy for NSCLC

April 06, 2021

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who receive pembrolizumab with chemotherapy are more likely to remain on therapy past 90 days than those who received chemotherapy alone, according to a study presented at the virtual 2021 National Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCN) Annual Conference.

“Since its approval in 2018, guidelines have recommended pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy in untreated patients who have advanced NSCLC cancer that lack targetable mutations,” wrote Augustine Lau, MD, New Century Health, Brea, CA, and colleagues.

“When combined with chemotherapy, pembrolizumab improves progression free survival and overall survival,” they continued.

Patients with a diagnosis of metastatic NSCLC that received first-line treatment between January 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020, were identified using a nationwide database of prior authorization results. Patients with non-squamous NSCLC were stratified into two groups: cisplatin or carboplatin and pemetrexed (control) or cisplatin or carboplatin and pemetrexed plus pembrolizumab. These groups were then stratified ECOG scores or 0 and 1 compared with 2+.

There were no difference reported across age, gender, and weight groups. For patients with non-squamous NSCLC with ECOG scores of 0 and 1, those who received chemotherapy plus pembrolizumab (n = 914) had a higher likelihood of remaining on treatment ≥90 days (χ2=156.53, P <.001) vs the control group (n = 1308).

In addition, for patients with squamous NSCLC with ECOG scores of 0 and 1, those who received chemotherapy plus pembrolizumab had a higher likelihood of remaining on treatment ≥90 days (χ2=110.95, P <.001) vs the control group (n = 980).

Dr Lau and colleagues reported that similar results were found for patients with ECOG scores 2+ across all subgroups.

“The findings indicate that metastatic NSCLC patients on pembrolizumab with chemotherapy are more likely to remain on therapy past 90 days as compared to the control group,” wrote Dr Lau and colleagues.

“This study provides real world data and comparative effectiveness research which compliments previously published clinical trials,” they concluded.—Janelle Bradley


Lau A, Delaisla J, Dang J, et al. Pembrolizumab in Metastatic Non-Squamous and Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Real World Data Results. Presented at: the virtual 2021 NCCN Annual Conference; March 18-20, 2021. Abstract CLO21-020.

Back to Top