Locally-advanced non-small cell lung cancer: shall immunotherapy be a new chance?
Locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents approximately one third of presentations at diagnosis. Most patients are judged non-surgical due to disease extension, and chemo-radiotherapy still represents the standard therapeutic option, with unsatisfactory results in terms of overall survival (OS) despite advances in staging and radiation therapy planning and delivery. Immunotherapy, and in particular immune-checkpoint inhibitors targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis, gained wide popularity for NSCLC in light of the positive findings of several trials in metastatic disease. Stage III unresectable NSCLC is a remarkably interesting setting for the combined use of chemo-radiation and immunotherapy, also considering the multiple experimental evidences in favor of a synergistic effect between radiation and immune checkpoint inhibitors, with the potential of enhancing immuno-modulating effects and overcoming resistance. We here summarized the biological rationale and the initial clinical experiences testing for this combination, and we briefly discussed ongoing trials and future options in this field.