Optimizing perioperative treatment for potentially resectable stage III squamous cell lung carcinoma: promising results of a condensed four-cycle regimen with tislelizumaband chemotherapy

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BMC Med. 2024 Jun 10;22(1):234. doi: 10.1186/s12916-024-03462-4.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The standard care for resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) involves perioperative therapy combining chemotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors, typically lasting 6 to 12 months. However, the optimal treatment strategies for potentially resectable squamous cell lung carcinoma (SCC) remain unclear. This Phase 2 trial aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of a condensed four-cycle perioperative treatment regimen with tislelizumab combined with chemotherapy in patients with potentially resectable stage III SCC.

METHODS: Patients with potentially resectable stage IIIA-IIIB (N2) SCC received intravenous tislelizumab, albumin-bound paclitaxel, and carboplatin for up to four cycles. The primary endpoints were major pathologic response (MPR) and incidence of treatment-related adverse events. Safety and potential biomarkers for efficacy prediction were also assessed.

RESULTS: Among 35 enrolled patients, 32 underwent surgery with R0 resection achieved in all cases. MPR was achieved in 24 patients and pathological complete response (pCR) in 14 patients. Radiographic objective response was observed in 31 patients. The 12-month and 24-month event-free survival rate was 85.7 and 61.0%, respectively. Four patients experienced grade 3 or 4 adverse events. Tumor tissue based next-generation sequencing revealed the potential associations between several biomarkers and pathological response, including tumor neoantigen burden score, 18-gene expression profile score, CD8 + T cells, M1/M2 macrophages ratio and interferon-gamma expression level. Besides, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) dynamics and concentration were also associated with pathological response and the presence of ctDNA at postoperative month 1 was a strong predictor for disease relapse. Furthermore, metagenomic sequencing in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid demonstrated Streptococcus was the most abundant genus in the pCR group.

CONCLUSIONS: A condensed four-cycle perioperative treatment regimen of tislelizumab combined with chemotherapy demonstrated promising efficacy and manageable toxicities in potentially resectable stage III SCC. Specific biomarkers showed potential for predicting treatment efficacy and the mechanism of superior antitumor response of pCR patients was preliminarily and indirectly explored.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT05024266. Registered August 27, 2021.

PMID:38853265 | DOI:10.1186/s12916-024-03462-4