The evolving use of pembrolizumab in combination treatment approaches for non-small cell lung cancer

Mariam Alexander, Brian Ko, Remy Lambert, Shirish Gadgeel, Balazs Halmos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The immune checkpoint inhibitor, pembrolizumab, has revolutionized the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It is currently approved and widely used in patients with advanced NSCLC whose tumors have no EGFR or ALK genomic aberrations that express PD-L1 as single-agent treatment and irrespective of PD-L1 expression in combination with platinum-based doublet chemotherapy in the first-line setting. Areas covered: The authors have reviewed articles discussing pembrolizumab and NSCLC in MEDLINE between July 2013 to August 2019 and focus on recent advances in combining pembrolizumab with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other novel agents in various stages of NSCLC. Expert opinion: Although pembrolizumab has revolutionized the treatment of advanced NSCLC, only a subset of patients benefit from single-agent therapy. Numerous trials combining pembrolizumab with chemotherapy and radiation have shown benefit and a large spectrum of novel combination strategies are being explored for improved synergies. In addition to PD-L1 tumor proportion score, validation of other biomarkers would be beneficial in stratifying patients and improving the predictive value of combining immune check point inhibitors and chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Review of Respiratory Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Pembrolizumab
  • biomarkers; NSCLC
  • chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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