Pembrolizumab versus placebo as adjuvant therapy for completely resected stage IB-IIIA non-small-cell lung cancer (PEARLS/KEYNOTE-091): an interim analysis of a randomised, triple-blind, phase 3 trial.


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Pembrolizumab versus placebo as adjuvant therapy for completely resected stage IB-IIIA non-small-cell lung cancer (PEARLS/KEYNOTE-091): an interim analysis of a randomised, triple-blind, phase 3 trial.
The Lancet. Oncology
O'Brien M., Paz-Ares L., Marreaud S., Dafni U., Oselin K., Havel L., Esteban E., Isla D., Martinez-Marti A., Faehling M., Tsuboi M., Lee J.S., Nakagawa K., Yang J., Samkari A., Keller S.M., Mauer M., Jha N., Stahel R., Besse B., Peters S.
Working group(s)
EORTC-1416-LCG/ETOP 8-15 - PEARLS/KEYNOTE-091 Investigators
1474-5488 (Electronic)
Publication state
Issued date
Publication types: Clinical Trial, Phase III ; Journal Article ; Randomized Controlled Trial ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Publication Status: ppublish
Pembrolizumab is a standard-of-care for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We assessed pembrolizumab as adjuvant therapy for completely resected stage IB-IIIA NSCLC.
In this randomised, triple-blind, phase 3 trial (PEARLS/KEYNOTE-091), patients were recruited from 196 medical centres in 29 countries. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older, with completely resected, pathologically confirmed stage IB (tumours of ≥4 cm in diameter), II, or IIIA NSCLC per the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system (7th edition) of any histology or PD-L1 expression level, and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1; adjuvant chemotherapy was to be considered for stage IB disease and was strongly recommended for stage II and IIIA disease, according to national and local guidelines. Using a central interactive voice-response system, eligible participants were randomly assigned (1:1), using a minimisation technique and stratified by disease stage, previous adjuvant chemotherapy, PD-L1 expression, and geographical region, to pembrolizumab 200 mg or placebo, both administered intravenously every 3 weeks for up to 18 cycles. Participants, investigators, and analysts were masked to treatment assignment. Dual primary endpoints were disease-free survival in the overall population and in the population with PD-L1 tumour proportion score (TPS) of 50% or greater. Efficacy was assessed in the intention-to-treat (ITT) population (ie, all participants randomly assigned to a treatment group). Safety was assessed in all participants randomly assigned to treatment who received at least one dose of study treatment. Here we report results of the second interim analysis, prespecified to occur when approximately 118 disease-free survival events had occurred in the PD-L1 TPS of 50% or greater population. This study is registered with, NCT02504372, and is active but not recruiting.
Between Jan 20, 2016, and May 6, 2020, 1177 (60%) of 1955 screened participants were randomly assigned to pembrolizumab (n=590, including n=168 with PD-L1 TPS of ≥50%) or placebo (n=587; including n=165 with PD-L1 TPS of ≥50%) and included in the ITT population. Median follow-up as of data cutoff (Sept 20, 2021) for this interim analysis was 35·6 months (IQR 27·1-45·5). In the overall population, median disease-free survival was 53·6 months (95% CI 39·2 to not reached) in the pembrolizumab group versus 42·0 months (31·3 to not reached) in the placebo group (HR 0·76 [95% CI 0·63-0·91], p=0·0014). In the PD-L1 TPS of 50% or greater population, median disease-free survival was not reached in either the pembrolizumab group (95% CI 44·3 to not reached) or the placebo group (95% CI 35·8 to not reached; HR 0·82 [95% CI 0·57-1·18]; p=0·14). Grade 3 or worse adverse events occurred in 198 (34%) of 580 participants who received pembrolizumab and 150 (26%) of 581 participants who received placebo. Grade 3 or worse events that occurred in at least ten participants in either treatment group were hypertension (35 [6%]) and pneumonia (12 [2%]) with pembrolizumab and hypertension (32 [6%]) with placebo. Serious adverse events occurred in 142 (24%) participants in the pembrolizumab group and 90 (15%) in the placebo group; serious adverse events that occurred in more than 1% of participants were pneumonia (13 [2%]), pneumonitis (12 [2%]), and diarrhoea (seven [1%]) with pembrolizumab and pneumonia (nine [2%]) with placebo. Treatment-related adverse events led to death in four (1%) participants treated with pembrolizumab (one due to both cardiogenic shock and myocarditis, one due to both septic shock and myocarditis, one due to pneumonia, and one due to sudden death) and in no participants treated with placebo.
Pembrolizumab significantly improved disease-free survival compared with placebo and was not associated with new safety signals in completely resected, PD-L1-unselected, stage IB-IIIA NSCLC. Pembrolizumab is potentially a new treatment option for stage IB-IIIA NSCLC after complete resection and, when recommended, adjuvant chemotherapy, regardless of PD-L1 expression.
Merck Sharp & Dohme, a subsidiary of Merck & Co.
Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols/adverse effects, B7-H1 Antigen/metabolism, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/drug therapy, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/surgery, Humans, Hypertension/drug therapy, Lung Neoplasms/drug therapy, Lung Neoplasms/metabolism, Lung Neoplasms/surgery, Myocarditis
Web of science
Open Access
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27/09/2022 12:34
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02/02/2023 6:52
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