Pembrolizumab is associated with a clinically-meaningful improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) compared with platinum-based chemotherapy for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to results presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 17th Annual World Conference on Lung Cancer in Austria.1

In the KEYNOTE-24 trial (NCT02142738), pembrolizumab demonstrated provided superior progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) over platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line therapy for patients with NSCLC with PD-L1 expression in more than 50% of tumor cells. Any grade treatment-related adverse events (AEs) were also less frequent with pembrolizumab.

Julie Renee Brahmer, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues presented data from exploratory patient-reported outcomes (PRO) analysis of HRQOL from KEYNOTE-24.

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In the trial, 305 patients were randomized to pembrolizumab or investigator-choice platinum-doublet chemotherapy plus optional pemetrexed maintenance therapy for non-squamous NSCLC. HRQOL was evaluated with Quality of Life Questionnaires at cycles 1-3 and every 9 weeks thereafter. Researchers analyzed PROs for all patients who received treatment and competed at least 1 PRO instrument (299 patients).

Patients treated with pembrolizumab (151) had a least squares (LS) mean change from baseline to week 15 in QOL score of 6.95, while those treated with chemotherapy (148) had a LS mean change of 0.88. The proportion of improved global health status/QOL score at week 15 was 40% for pembrolizumab and 26.5% for chemotherapy.

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The researchers argued that the superior PFS and OS, combined with the patient-reported QOL scores, suggest pembrolizumab may be a new standard of care for first-line treatment of PD-L1-expressing, advanced NSCLC.


  1. Brahmer JR, Rodriguez-Abreu D, Robinson AG, et al. Health-related quality of life for pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC with PD-L1 TPS ≥50%: data from KEYNOTE-024. Paper presented at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 2016; Vienna, Austria.