Introduction: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is an aggressive
malignancy with poor overall survival that accounts for up to 85% of lung cancer diagnoses.
The use of immunotherapy in the form of checkpoint inhibition, to enhance
the immune system’s ability to attack malignant cells, has been a promising addition
to treatment options in advanced NSCLC.
Results: Such therapeutic agents aimed at the Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) receptor
or Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) have revealed promising results against
many types of cancer including NSCLC. Examples of these agents include nivolumab,
pembrolizumab, BMS-936559, atezolizumab, and MEDI4736, of which the
first two are approved by US FDA in the second line treatment of advanced NSCLC.
Discussion: Impressive improvements in objective responses from PD-1 blockade were found in both
first line therapy as well as treatment after progression on platinum based therapy. In addition, the safety
profile is favorable with significantly lower grade 3-4 adverse events compared to standard of care. The
optimal selection criteria and factors that show an increased response to therapy are still being determined.