Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive tumor type with limited therapeutic options and poor prognosis. Chemotherapy regimens containing platinum represent the cornerstone of treatment for patients with extensive disease, but there has been no real progress for 30 years. The evidence that SCLC is characterized by a high mutational burden led to the development of immune-checkpoint inhibitors as single agents or in combination with chemotherapy. Randomized phase III trials demonstrated that the combination of atezolizumab (IMpower-133) or durvalumab (CASPIAN) with platinum-etoposide chemotherapy improved overall survival of patients with extensive disease. Instead, the KEYNOTE-604 study demonstrated that the addition of pembrolizumab to chemotherapy failed to significantly improve overall survival, but it prolonged progression-free survival. The safety profile of these combinations was similar with the known safety profiles of all single agents and no new adverse events were observed. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab single agents showed anti-tumor activity and acceptable safety profile in Checkmate 032 and KEYNOTE 028/158 trials, respectively, in patients with SCLC after platinum-based therapy and at least one prior line of therapy. Future challenges are the identification predictive biomarkers of response to immunotherapy in SCLC and the definition of the role of immunotherapy in patients with limited stage SCLC, in combination with radiotherapy or with other biological agents.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Immunotherapy in Small Cell Lung Cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this