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ImportanceBecause of socioeconomic factors, many patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) do not receive immunotherapy in the first-line setting. It is unknown if the combination of immunotherapy with chemotherapy can provide clinical benefits in immunotherapy-naive patients with disease progression after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy.ObjectiveTo evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination of pembrolizumab plus docetaxel in patients with previously treated advanced NSCLC following platinum-based chemotherapy regardless of EGFR variants or programmed cell death ligand 1 status.Design, setting, and participantsThe Pembrolizumab Plus Docetaxel for Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (PROLUNG) trial randomized 78 patients with histologically confirmed advanced NSCLC in a 1:1 ratio to receive either pembrolizumab plus docetaxel or docetaxel alone from December 2016 through May 2019.InterventionsThe experimental arm received docetaxel on day 1 (75 mg/m2) plus pembrolizumab on day 8 (200 mg) every 3 weeks for up to 6 cycles followed by pembrolizumab maintenance until progression or unacceptable toxic effects. The control arm received docetaxel monotherapy.Main outcomes and measuresThe primary end point was overall response rate (ORR). Secondary end points included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival, and safety.ResultsAmong 78 recruited patients, 32 (41%) were men, 34 (44%) were never smokers, and 25 (32%) had an EGFR/ALK alteration. Forty patients were allocated to receive pembrolizumab plus docetaxel, and 38 were allocated to receive docetaxel. A statistically significant difference in ORR, assessed by an independent reviewer, was found in patients receiving pembrolizumab plus docetaxel vs patients receiving docetaxel (42.5% vs 15.8%; odds ratio, 3.94; 95% CI, 1.34-11.54; P = .01). Patients without EGFR variations had a considerable difference in ORR of 35.7% vs 12.0% (P = .06), whereas patients with EGFR variations had an ORR of 58.3% vs 23.1% (P = .14). Overall, PFS was longer in patients who received pembrolizumab plus docetaxel (9.5 months; 95% CI, 4.2-not reached) than in patients who received docetaxel (3.9 months; 95% CI, 3.2-5.7) (hazard ratio, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.13-0.46; P Conclusions and relevanceIn this phase 2 study, the combination of pembrolizumab plus docetaxel was well tolerated and substantially improved ORR and PFS in patients with advanced NSCLC who had previous progression after platinum-based chemotherapy, including NSCLC with EGFR variations.Trial Identifier: NCT02574598.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA oncology

Publication Date





856 - 864


Thoracic Oncology Unit, Laboratory of Experimental Oncology, National Cancer Institute (INCan), Mexico City, Mexico.


Humans, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Lung Neoplasms, Antineoplastic Agents, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Treatment Outcome, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor, Docetaxel, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors