Neoadjuvant Nivolumab plus Chemotherapy in Resectable Lung Cancer

Author(s): Patrick M. Forde, M.B., B.Ch., Jonathan Spicer, M.D., Ph.D., Shun Lu, M.D., Ph.D., Mariano Provencio, M.D., Ph.D., Tetsuya Mitsudomi, M.D., Ph.D., Mark M. Awad, M.D., Ph.D., Enriqueta Felip, M.D., Ph.D., Stephen R. Broderick, M.D., M.P.H.S., Julie R. Brahmer, M.D., Scott J. Swanson, M.D., Keith Kerr, M.B., Ch.B., Changli Wang, M.D., Ph.D., et al., for the CheckMate 816 Investigators*
Source: N Engl J Med 2022; 386:1973-1985 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2202170
Lucio Gordan MD

This is a potential practice-changing study. Future data on overall-survival (OS) will be important to confirm results. Patient selection will also evolve over time especially in real-world practice. I presume more patients with stage II/III will get neoadjuvant therapy as opposed to a patient with a small lung nodule (stage I) taken to surgery, unless if there is significant OS for early stage patients as well.



Neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy confers a modest benefit over surgery alone for resectable non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In early-phase trials, nivolumab-based neoadjuvant regimens have shown promising clinical activity; however, data from phase 3 trials are needed to confirm these findings.


In this open-label, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned patients with stage IB to IIIA resectable NSCLC to receive nivolumab plus platinum-based chemotherapy or platinum-based chemotherapy alone, followed by resection. The primary end points were event-free survival and pathological complete response (0% viable tumor in resected lung and lymph nodes), both evaluated by blinded independent review. Overall survival was a key secondary end point. Safety was assessed in all treated patients.


The median event-free survival was 31.6 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 30.2 to not reached) with nivolumab plus chemotherapy and 20.8 months (95% CI, 14.0 to 26.7) with chemotherapy alone (hazard ratio for disease progression, disease recurrence, or death, 0.63; 97.38% CI, 0.43 to 0.91; P=0.005). The percentage of patients with a pathological complete response was 24.0% (95% CI, 18.0 to 31.0) and 2.2% (95% CI, 0.6 to 5.6), respectively (odds ratio, 13.94; 99% CI, 3.49 to 55.75; P<0.001). Results for event-free survival and pathological complete response across most subgroups favored nivolumab plus chemotherapy over chemotherapy alone. At the first prespecified interim analysis, the hazard ratio for death was 0.57 (99.67% CI, 0.30 to 1.07) and did not meet the criterion for significance. Of the patients who underwent randomization, 83.2% of those in the nivolumab-plus-chemotherapy group and 75.4% of those in the chemotherapy-alone group underwent surgery. Grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events occurred in 33.5% of the patients in the nivolumab-plus-chemotherapy group and in 36.9% of those in the chemotherapy-alone group.


In patients with resectable NSCLC, neoadjuvant nivolumab plus chemotherapy resulted in significantly longer event-free survival and a higher percentage of patients with a pathological complete response than chemotherapy alone. The addition of nivolumab to neoadjuvant chemotherapy did not increase the incidence of adverse events or impede the feasibility of surgery.

Author Affiliations

From the Bloomberg–Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore (P.M.F., S.R.B., J.R.B., J.M.T.); McGill University Health Center (J.S.), and Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (M.L.) — both in Montreal; Shanghai Chest Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai (S.L.), Tianjin Lung Cancer Center, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin (C.W.), and Peking University School of Oncology, Beijing Cancer Hospital, Beijing (K.-N.C.) — all in China; Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, Madrid (M.P.); Kindai University Faculty of Medicine, Ohno-Higashi, Osaka-Sayama (T.M.), the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu (F.T.), and Kanagawa Cancer Center, Yokohama (H.I.) — all in Japan; Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, Boston (M.M.A., S.J.S.); Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology, Barcelona (E.F.); Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, United Kingdom (K.K.); Institutul Oncologic Prof. Dr. Ion Chiricuta and Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie Iuliu Hatieganu, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (T.-E.C.); Charleston Oncology, Charleston, SC (G.B.S.); University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago (E.E.V.); Bristol Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ (C.D., J.C., J.F., A.J., D.B., M.S., D.P., C.Y.C.); and Institut du Thorax Curie-Montsouris, Institut Curie, Paris (N.G.).

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