Safety and Efficacy of Extended Interval Dosing for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer During the COVID-19 Pandemic

L B M Hijmering-Kappelle*, T J N Hiltermann, F Bensch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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INTRODUCTION: Extended interval (EI) dosing for immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) mono- or consolidation therapy initiated due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant reduction in ICI-related site visits for patients with stage III and IV non-small cell lung cancer. Here we report the safety and efficacy compared to standard dose (SD) schedules.

METHOD: In this retrospective analysis, patients who received ICI mono- or consolidation therapy, or adjuvant ICI therapy were assessed. Safety and efficacy of EI dosing with data of SD schedules were compared.

RESULTS: One hundred seventeen patients received EI dosing for ICI and 88 patients SD. Patient characteristics were comparable. We observed 237 adverse events in the EI dosing cohort versus 118 in the SD group (P= .02). Overall, there was no difference in the occurrence of grade ≥3 adverse events (EI dosing: 21/237 [8.9%]; SD group: 20/118 [17.0%], P = .42), except for the pembrolizumab EI dosing cohort. Of all patients who received an EI dosing schedule, however, only 8 (6.8%) were reduced to SD because of toxicity. In 5 (4.3%) patients ICI was permanently stopped because of severe toxicity compared to 11 (12.5%) discontinuations in the SD group. Short-term treatment interruption occurred with similar frequencies in both groups. Progression-free survival and overall survival were comparable in patients receiving pembrolizumab and in those receiving adjuvant durvalumab. Progression-free survival and OS were better in the EI dosing cohort of nivolumab.

CONCLUSION: EI dosing for ICI did not lead to an increase of clinically relevant toxicities resulting in dose reduction and/or treatment discontinuation. Efficacy of EI dosing of pembrolizumab and durvalumab were comparable to SD. Based on our safety and efficacy data EI dosing for ICI seems a safe and effective strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalClinical lung cancer
Issue number2
Early online date24-Dec-2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2022


  • Checkpoint blockade
  • Immunotherapy
  • Dose adaptation
  • Coronavirus


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