Tracey L. Evans, MD of the University of Pennsylvania discusses the impact of immunotherapy in thoracic oncology. Immunotherapy data is one of the most important data that has come out for thoracic oncology. The data showed that in the second line setting, checkpoint inhibitors can improve overall survival more than chemotherapy. In the first-line setting, data showed pembrolizumab in patients that have high PD-L1 level or pembrolizumab and immunotherapy that is well tolerated actually improved outcomes for both overall survival and PFS, relative to platinum-based chemotherapy.
Recently, data showed that for patients with lower PD-L1 level expression, the addition of pembrolizumab to chemotherapy in non-squamous patients has improved PFS relative to chemo alone.
On the flip side, immunotherapy doesnt work for everyone. And, in some cases progression happens sooner and its not easy to tell if the treatment is really working. But, overall, for a large population of patients with lung cancer, immunotherapy has been a real benefit to them.