Special topics in immunotherapy and radiation therapy: reirradiation and palliation
Immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, thus far, its use has only been established in patients with advanced disease either as first-line therapy in selected patients or following chemotherapy. What is not yet known is how best to incorporate radiation with immunotherapy agents. Many patients with advanced disease can benefit from palliative radiation, but the combination of radiation with immunotherapy has the potential to increase the toxicity of both modalities. Intriguingly, the combination also has the potential to enhance the efficacy of both modalities. For this reason, combining immunotherapy and radiation may help salvage patients with recurrent localized disease who are candidates for re-irradiation. We review the current data evaluating immunotherapy with both palliative radiation as well as definitive re-irradiation in NSCLC.