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Immune checkpoint inhibitors have become a valuable tool in the therapeutic strategy against metastasized non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as they represent an effective and safe treatment option for many patients; however, the treatment response and side effects of this class of drugs can considerably differ compared to classical chemotherapeutics. The aim of this study was to highlight specific radiological pulmonary findings of NSCLC patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Methods and results
Medical records and images of prospectively collected data from 70 patients with advanced NSCLC, treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors, were reviewed. Of the patients two experienced an initial increase in tumor size, followed by a decrease in tumor size that was described as pseudoprogression. Another patient developed a sarcoid-like reaction accompanied by clinical improvements and radiological treatment response. A further two patients developed immune checkpoint-associated pulmonary injury that was clinically and radiologically classified as pneumonitis, which responded well to anti-inflammatory treatment.
Management of patients with NSCLC using immune checkpoint inhibitors requires a knowledge of specific clinical and radiological findings. Both oncologists and radiologists have to be aware of the most common types, including atypical response patterns, such as a sarcoid-like reaction and pseudoprogression as well as of the pulmonary side effects that can encompass pneumonitis.