J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2022 Jun 16. doi: 10.1007/s00432-022-04080-4. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSES: Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) testing is performed mainly on biopsy specimens in patients with advanced lung cancer. It is questionable whether the small amount of tissue analysed in biopsies may represent the true PD-L1 expression of a tumour.
METHODS: In this retrospective study, PD-L1 expression on tumour cells derived from bronchoscopy brush cytology, endobronchial ultrasound guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA), endobronchial biopsy, transbronchial biopsy (TBB) and computed tomography (CT)-guided transthoracic biopsy was compared to the PD-L1 expression of the corresponding surgical resection in lung cancer patients with regard to neoadjuvant treatment in-between.
RESULTS: A quantitative comparison between the diagnostic biopsy of the primary tumour with corresponding resected surgical specimens in a total of 113 lung cancer patients (60% male, mean age 65 ± 9 years) revealed a statistically significant correlation of PD-L1 expression on tumour cells (r = 0.58, p< 0.001), for patients without neoadjuvant treatment in-between and for patients who underwent neoadjuvant treatment (both p < 0.001). Using a cut-off value of ≥ 50% PD-L1 TPS for comparing the biopsy samples and resected specimens, the concordance rate was 78% with a Cohen’s Kappa of 0.45.
CONCLUSION: A statistically significant concordance for PD-L1 expression on tumour cells between biopsies from primary lung tumour and resected specimen was found, but of uncertain clinical accuracy. The use of a cut-off value of ≥ 50% PD-L1 TPS resulted only in a moderate agreement. Therefore, the interpretation of the PD-L1 determined form biopsy specimens status should only be considered with caution for treatment decisionsQuery.