Pembrolizumab Reduces Death Rate in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ezra Cohen, MD Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center Professor of Medicine Moores Cancer Center UC San Diego Health - La Jolla Moores Cancer Center La Jolla, CA  92093

Dr. Cohen

Ezra Cohen, MD
Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
Moores Cancer Center
UC San Diego Health – La Jolla
Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA  92093

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We have known for a couple of years that anti-PD1 therapy, and specifically pembrolizumab, is active in  head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The KN40 trial now tested pembrolizuamb against standard of care in patients whose cancers progressed on platinum containing regimens.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings really supported what we know about pembrolizumab in this disease – it is active and effective with a favorable side effect profile. Pembrolizumab reduced the risk of death by 19% and was associated with a 14% response rate. The effect was even greater in tumors that expressed PDL1 and, in the highest expressing group, the benefit in reduction of risk of death was 46% with a 27% response rate.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The study reinforces what we know about anti-PDL1 in this disease and should increase our confidence in using these drugs.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We are already thinking about the future and how to incorporate these drugs, and immunotherapy in general, to treat a broader group of patients. Major initiative are looking at combining pembrolizumab and similar agents with other types of immunotherapy as well as standard therapies like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In addition, further work is being done to characterize which patients are most likely to benefit from pembrolizumab and discover how to best treat those that do not respond.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This continues to be an incredibly exciting time in the field. We are still in the early days of immunotherapy for cancer but the promise and possibilities are pushing the limits of what we once thought was unachievable.

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Citation:

LBA45_PR – Pembrolizumab (pembro) vs standard of care (SOC) for recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (R/M HNSCC): Phase 3 KEYNOTE-040… Date11 September 2017

ESMO 2017 Congress

Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
Haematologic Malignancies
Presenter Ezra Cohen

Citation
Annals of Oncology (2017) 28 (suppl_5): v605-v649. 10.1093/annonc/mdx440

E.E. Cohen1, K.J. Harrington2, C. Le Tourneau3, J. Dinis4, L. Licitra5, M. Ahn6, A. Soria7, J. Machiels8, N. Mach9, R. Mehra10, B. Burtness11, Y. Wang12, A.J. Tuozzo12, R. Swaby13, D. Soulieres14

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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