Asian head and neck cancer patients live longer with the immunotherapy pembrolizumab than the overall population, according to a sub-analysis of the KEYNOTE-012 trial presented at the ESMO ASIA 2016 Congress in Singapore.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the seventh most common cancer worldwide,” said lead author Dr Makoto Tahara, chief, Department of Head and Neck Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre Hospital East, Chiba, Japan. “The overall incidence of HNSCC in the Asia Pacific region is approximately 300,000 new cases per year, which is more than half of the total cases worldwide.”
Recurrent/metastatic HNSCC is commonly treated in the first line with cetuximab, platinum, and 5-fluorouracil, known as the EXTREME regimen, which has demonstrated a median overall survival of ten months. Patients who progress on first line therapy or are platinum refractory have a median overall survival of less than six months.
Pembrolizumab is a humanised monoclonal immunoglobulin G4 antibody that blocks the interaction between programmed death (PD)-1 and PD-ligand (PD-L)1 and PD-L2. It has shown antitumour activity in several types of cancer. The initial KEYNOTE-012 trial in 60 patients showed the clinical activity of pembrolizumab administered at 10 mg/kg every two weeks.1 A fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks was then evaluated in 132 patients.2 “A fixed-dose has several advantages including safety, convenience, reduction of waste, and adherence,” said Tahara.
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