This review describes a new therapeutic landscape in the adjuvant treatment of resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and discusses the role of the surgeon in ensuring the best outcomes within this treatment paradigm.
We conducted a narrative literature review using the search terms "non-small cell lung cancer" and "adjuvant" to identify randomized Phase III trials of systemic adjuvant therapy for NSCLC through March 17, 2022. We also searched ClinicalTrials.gov to identify ongoing trials of adjuvant immunotherapies and targeted therapies for NSCLC.
Three recent randomized Phase III trials reported significant improvements in disease-free survival with adjuvant immune checkpoint inhibitors or targeted therapy in patients with resectable NSCLC: IMpower010 (atezolizumab vs best supportive care; NCT02486718), KEYNOTE-091 (PEARLS) (pembrolizumab vs placebo; NCT02504372), and ADAURA (osimertinib vs placebo; NCT02511106). Numerous other Phase III trials evaluating adjuvant immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted therapies are currently underway, many of which demonstrate an evolution of trial design and end points for adjuvant therapy trials. This rapidly changing treatment landscape requires a shift in the role of the surgeon to facilitate appropriate biomarker screening for planning of the perioperative period and molecular testing of the surgical specimen to guide adjuvant therapy.
After decades of stagnation in the management of NSCLC, recent results with immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted therapies are ushering in a new era of precision medicine in the adjuvant treatment of early-stage NSCLC. Surgeons have an important role in facilitating multidisciplinary care in this rapidly evolving landscape.