Initial results of pulmonary resection after neoadjuvant nivolumab in patients with resectable non–small cell lung cancer

Matthew J. Bott, Stephen C Yang, Bernard J. Park, Prasad S. Adusumilli, Valerie W. Rusch, James M. Isbell, Robert J. Downey, Julie Brahmer, Richard J Battafarano, Errol Bush, Jamie Chaft, Patrick Forde, David R. Jones, Stephen Broderick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: We conducted a phase I trial of neoadjuvant nivolumab, a monoclonal antibody to the programmed cell death protein 1 checkpoint receptor, in patients with resectable non–small cell lung cancer. We analyzed perioperative outcomes to assess the safety of this strategy. Methods: Patients with untreated stage I-IIIA non–small cell lung cancer underwent neoadjuvant therapy with 2 cycles of nivolumab (3 mg/kg), 4 and 2 weeks before resection. Patients underwent invasive mediastinal staging as indicated and post-treatment computed tomography. Primary study end points were safety and feasibility of neoadjuvant nivolumab followed by pulmonary resection. Data on additional surgical details were collected through chart review. Results: Of 22 patients enrolled, 20 underwent resection. One was unresectable; another had small cell histologic subtype. There were no delays to surgical resection. Median time from first treatment to surgery was 33 (range, 17-43) days. There were 15 lobectomies, 2 pneumonectomies, 1 bilobectomy, 1 sleeve lobectomy, and 1 wedge resection. Of 13 procedures attempted via a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery or robotic approach, 7 (54%) required thoracotomy. Median operative time was 228 (range, 132-312) minutes; estimated blood loss was 100 (range, 25-1000) mL; length of hospital stay was 4 (range, 2-17) days. There was no operative mortality. Morbidity occurred in 10 of 20 patients (50%). The most common postoperative complication was atrial arrhythmia (6/20; 30%). Major pathologic response was identified in 9 of 20 patients (45%). Conclusions: Neoadjuvant therapy with nivolumab was not associated with unexpected perioperative morbidity or mortality. More than half of the video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery/robotic cases were converted to thoracotomy, often because of hilar inflammation and fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • immune checkpoint inhibition
  • immunotherapy
  • neoadjuvant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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