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Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Nov;97(44):e13112. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000013112.

A case report of remarkable response to association of radiofrequency ablation with subsequent Atezolizumab in stage IV nonsmall cell lung cancer.

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Department of Medical Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University.
Department of Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University City College, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.



Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) or programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated impressive efficacy in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an alternative locoregional therapy for patients with inoperable NSCLC. We report the role of RFA in a patient with metastasis from advanced stage NSCLC that was managed with checkpoint inhibitors. Therefore, this combination of RFA with subsequent immunotherapy can control NSCLC better than RFA or immunotherapy on their own.


We report here a 61-year-old Chinese male who presented with postoperative recurrence squamous cell lung cancer following the left upper lobectomy and 4 cycles of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy 6 months back.


A newly occurring lesion was detected in the left lower lung. Based on computed tomography (CT) and percutaneous lung biopsy enhancement, the patient was diagnosed with stage IV nonsmall cell lung cancer.


The patient refused systemic chemotherapy. And there was no basis for using tyrosine kinase inhibitors. RFA was performed for 3 times at the left lower lung lesion, which was under control. Afterward, an enlargement of the lesion at left lower lung with involvement to chest wall, and new nodules in both lungs were revealed. After that, the patient received intravenous PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors Atezolizumab. Follow-up restaging CT scan showed disease progression in both lungs. However, by treated 4 months later, partial response was observed at the left lower lung lesion, and stable response was observed at the right upper lung lesion.


The patient displayed a remarkable response to Atezolizumab in one lesion at left lower lung, where he received previous locoregional therapy of RFA. As a comparison, another lesion at right upper lung without RFA history showed little response to Atezolizumab.


Our case suggests a significantly synergistic effect of sequential association of RFA and subsequent immunotherapy. Integrating locoregional therapy such as RFA into anti-PD-1/PD-L1 agent regimens may help to release tumor-associated antigen and mediate T-cell immune enhancement, and on the long run improve the ongoing efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors. The combination of locoregional therapy and immunotherapy represents a potential new treatment option in the management of metastatic NSCLC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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