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      Pembrolizumab for the Treatment of Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

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          Abstract

          We assessed the efficacy and safety of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) inhibition with pembrolizumab in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer enrolled in a phase 1 study. We also sought to define and validate an expression level of the PD-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) that is associated with the likelihood of clinical benefit. We assigned 495 patients receiving pembrolizumab (at a dose of either 2 mg or 10 mg per kilogram of body weight every 3 weeks or 10 mg per kilogram every 2 weeks) to either a training group (182 patients) or a validation group (313 patients). We assessed PD-L1 expression in tumor samples using immunohistochemical analysis, with results reported as the percentage of neoplastic cells with staining for membranous PD-L1 (proportion score). Response was assessed every 9 weeks by central review. Common side effects that were attributed to pembrolizumab were fatigue, pruritus, and decreased appetite, with no clear difference according to dose or schedule. Among all the patients, the objective response rate was 19.4%, and the median duration of response was 12.5 months. The median duration of progression-free survival was 3.7 months, and the median duration of overall survival was 12.0 months. PD-L1 expression in at least 50% of tumor cells was selected as the cutoff from the training group. Among patients with a proportion score of at least 50% in the validation group, the response rate was 45.2%. Among all the patients with a proportion score of at least 50%, median progression-free survival was 6.3 months; median overall survival was not reached. Pembrolizumab had an acceptable side-effect profile and showed antitumor activity in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. PD-L1 expression in at least 50% of tumor cells correlated with improved efficacy of pembrolizumab. (Funded by Merck; KEYNOTE-001 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01295827.).

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          Most cited references 36

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          Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation

          The hallmarks of cancer comprise six biological capabilities acquired during the multistep development of human tumors. The hallmarks constitute an organizing principle for rationalizing the complexities of neoplastic disease. They include sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, enabling replicative immortality, inducing angiogenesis, and activating invasion and metastasis. Underlying these hallmarks are genome instability, which generates the genetic diversity that expedites their acquisition, and inflammation, which fosters multiple hallmark functions. Conceptual progress in the last decade has added two emerging hallmarks of potential generality to this list-reprogramming of energy metabolism and evading immune destruction. In addition to cancer cells, tumors exhibit another dimension of complexity: they contain a repertoire of recruited, ostensibly normal cells that contribute to the acquisition of hallmark traits by creating the "tumor microenvironment." Recognition of the widespread applicability of these concepts will increasingly affect the development of new means to treat human cancer. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Cancer statistics, 2015.

            Each year the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths that will occur in the United States in the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival. Incidence data were collected by the National Cancer Institute (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results [SEER] Program), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (National Program of Cancer Registries), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality data were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. A total of 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States in 2015. During the most recent 5 years for which there are data (2007-2011), delay-adjusted cancer incidence rates (13 oldest SEER registries) declined by 1.8% per year in men and were stable in women, while cancer death rates nationwide decreased by 1.8% per year in men and by 1.4% per year in women. The overall cancer death rate decreased from 215.1 (per 100,000 population) in 1991 to 168.7 in 2011, a total relative decline of 22%. However, the magnitude of the decline varied by state, and was generally lowest in the South (∼15%) and highest in the Northeast (≥20%). For example, there were declines of 25% to 30% in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Delaware, which collectively averted 29,000 cancer deaths in 2011 as a result of this progress. Further gains can be accelerated by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population. © 2015 American Cancer Society.
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              New response evaluation criteria in solid tumours: revised RECIST guideline (version 1.1).

              Assessment of the change in tumour burden is an important feature of the clinical evaluation of cancer therapeutics: both tumour shrinkage (objective response) and disease progression are useful endpoints in clinical trials. Since RECIST was published in 2000, many investigators, cooperative groups, industry and government authorities have adopted these criteria in the assessment of treatment outcomes. However, a number of questions and issues have arisen which have led to the development of a revised RECIST guideline (version 1.1). Evidence for changes, summarised in separate papers in this special issue, has come from assessment of a large data warehouse (>6500 patients), simulation studies and literature reviews. HIGHLIGHTS OF REVISED RECIST 1.1: Major changes include: Number of lesions to be assessed: based on evidence from numerous trial databases merged into a data warehouse for analysis purposes, the number of lesions required to assess tumour burden for response determination has been reduced from a maximum of 10 to a maximum of five total (and from five to two per organ, maximum). Assessment of pathological lymph nodes is now incorporated: nodes with a short axis of 15 mm are considered measurable and assessable as target lesions. The short axis measurement should be included in the sum of lesions in calculation of tumour response. Nodes that shrink to <10mm short axis are considered normal. Confirmation of response is required for trials with response primary endpoint but is no longer required in randomised studies since the control arm serves as appropriate means of interpretation of data. Disease progression is clarified in several aspects: in addition to the previous definition of progression in target disease of 20% increase in sum, a 5mm absolute increase is now required as well to guard against over calling PD when the total sum is very small. Furthermore, there is guidance offered on what constitutes 'unequivocal progression' of non-measurable/non-target disease, a source of confusion in the original RECIST guideline. Finally, a section on detection of new lesions, including the interpretation of FDG-PET scan assessment is included. Imaging guidance: the revised RECIST includes a new imaging appendix with updated recommendations on the optimal anatomical assessment of lesions. A key question considered by the RECIST Working Group in developing RECIST 1.1 was whether it was appropriate to move from anatomic unidimensional assessment of tumour burden to either volumetric anatomical assessment or to functional assessment with PET or MRI. It was concluded that, at present, there is not sufficient standardisation or evidence to abandon anatomical assessment of tumour burden. The only exception to this is in the use of FDG-PET imaging as an adjunct to determination of progression. As is detailed in the final paper in this special issue, the use of these promising newer approaches requires appropriate clinical validation studies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                May 21 2015
                May 21 2015
                : 372
                : 21
                : 2018-2028
                10.1056/NEJMoa1501824
                25891174
                © 2015
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