- Not all lung cancers are the same type.
- Not all lung cancers are of same stage.
- Not all lung cancers are treated with similar treatment.
For stage 4 lung adenocarcinoma (subset of NSCLC), further testing of EFGR and EML4-ALK mutation are routinely done in Malaysia.
- ROS1 rearranged mutation drivers is not routinely done although targetable treatment is available.
Those with detected mutation/ presence of oncogenic driver mutation will benefit from targeted therapies (gefitinib, erlotinib, afatinib, osimertinib, crizotinib, ceritinib, alectinib).
Patients without oncogenic mutation (EGFR, ALK) are further tested on the percentage of PD-L1-expression in tumour cells.
Certain patients with positive PD-L1 expression in tumour cells will benefit from immunotherapy treatment (pembrolizumab, nivolumab, atezolizumab, avelumab).
The subgroup analysis of the above two large studies’ showed no improvement in overall survival in patients with positive oncogenic mutation driver (EGFR) treated with immunotherapy.
So, in general practice:
- Patients with positive oncogenic mutation driver (EGFR, ALK) are treated with targeted therapy.
- Patients with positive oncogenic mutation driver and positive PD-L1 expression are treated with targeted therapy and immunotherapy in later lines of treatment.
- Patients with negative oncogenic mutation driver and positive PD-L1 expression are treated with immunotherapy.
- Patients with negative oncogenic mutation driver AND negative PD-L1 expression are treated with chemotherapy.
Of course, the above are just simplistic view of the ever expanding treatments options available for advanced lung cancer.
Many studies are looking into optimal sequencing or combination of treatments, which could change the above once results are made available.
The conclusion from the above study was that in EGFR-mutated non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), immunotherapy (pembrolizumab, nivolumab and atezolizumab) did not improve survival when compared with palliative chemotherapy (docetaxel) in second-line NSCLC treatment.