Background: Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated in real-world practice typically have worse performance status (PS) compared with clinical trial patients, and the effectiveness of immunotherapy in this population in unknown. In this study, we assessed the effectiveness of standard of care immunotherapy for the first-line treatment of stage IV patients with NSCLC with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) PS greater than or equal to 2. Methods: We selected ECOG PS greater than or equal to 2 patients from real-world oncology data from a deidentified database and included them if they were diagnosed with stage IV NSCLC and had documented Programmed death-ligand 1 [PD-(L)1] expression greater than 0. Patients with tumor PD-(L)1 expression of at least 50% treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy were compared with those who did not have any documented treatment. Patients with tumor PD-(L)1 expression less than 50% treated with pembrolizumab and chemotherapy were compared with those treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy and those without documented treatment. Results: In our propensity score-adjusted analysis, patients with ECOG PS of at least 2 and tumor PD-(L)1 expression of at least 50% treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy had statistically significantly better real-world overall survival compared with those without documented treatment (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 0.39, 95% confidence internal [CI] = 0.32 to 0.47). For patients with tumor PD-(L)1 expression less than 50%, there was also a statistically significant real-world overall survival benefit for those who received treatment either with combination pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy (adjusted HR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.32 to 0.46) or pembrolizumab monotherapy (adjusted HR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.41 to 0.70) compared with patients receiving no documented treatment. Conclusions: Among a highly representative sample of patients with advanced NSCLC and poor PS, our findings suggest that immunotherapy may provide an important survival benefit in individuals with high PD-(L)1-expressing tumors and in conjunction with chemotherapy in tumors with low PD-(L)1 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpkac013
JournalJNCI Cancer Spectrum
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022


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