In a nutshell
This study examined the effect of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) on the health and quality of life of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. The study concluded that treatment with pembrolizumab was better for patient health than treatment with chemotherapy.
Many tumor cells have a protein called PD-L1 which stops the immune system from killing them. New therapies are available that block PD-L1, which allows the immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an anti-PD-L1 drug. In trials it has shown to be more effective than chemotherapy at treating patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have PD-L1 proteins.
Because patients with NSCLC can experience many symptoms, such as shortness of breath, pain, or weight loss, it is important to understand the effect of treatments such as pembrolizumab on quality of life.
Methods & findings
This trial looked at the effect of pembrolizumab on quality of life compared to chemotherapy for patients with PD-L1 positive NSCLC. 299 patients were included in the trial, where 151 patients were randomly assigned to treatment with pembrolizumab and 148 patients were treated with chemotherapy. Patients were given two questionnaires where they reported disease symptoms such as fatigue and vomiting, as well as overall physical, emotional and cognitive health. Questionnaires were completed at the start of the trial and after 15 weeks.
Before treatment, scores from the questionnaires were similar between both groups. After an average of 15 weeks, there was improvement in QoL scores for the pembrolizumab group and a decline in QoL scores for the chemotherapy group.
31% of pembrolizumab treated patients experienced cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing compared to 39% of chemotherapy patients. Time for patients to experience symptoms was 34% longer for patients treated with pembrolizumab than those treated with chemotherapy.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that treatment with pembrolizumab has improvements in QoL compared to treated with chemotherapy for patients with NSCLC.
Published By :
The Lancet. Oncology
Nov 09, 2017