Efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors in younger patients with non-small cell lung cancer

Shinkichi Takamori, Mototsugu Shimokawa, Takefumi Komiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Because patients younger than 40 years are rarely enrolled in clinical trials in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), their survival benefit of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) needs to be clarified. Methods: The National Cancer Database was queried for patients who were diagnosed with stage IV NSCLC between 2016 and 2018. ICIs were administered in the first-line setting. The overall survival (OS) of patients with stage IV NSCLC according to the receipt of ICIs was compared in different age groups (< 40, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and ≥ 80 years). Multivariate analyses identified the clinical characteristics predictive of OS. Propensity score matching (PSM) was conducted to reduce the biases arising from clinical characteristics. Results: This study included 126,476 patients with stage IV NSCLC. In univariate analysis, ICI treatment was not associated with a survival benefit in patients younger than 40 years with stage IV NSCLC relative to their ICI-naïve counterparts after PSM (median OS: 24.2 months vs. 24.0 months, hazard ratio [HR] = 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.81–1.27, P = 0.9031). Multivariate analysis revealed that ICI use was not an independent predictor of OS in patients with stage IV NSCLC < 40 years old (HR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.76–1.21, P = 0.7230). Sequential improvement of the HR was observed with increasing age. Conclusion: Our study suggested a poor survival benefit of ICIs in stage IV NSCLC patients younger than 40 years old, which should be validated in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13175-13184
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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