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Nivolumab shows promise in advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Photo by Dermanonymous via Wikimedia Commons

Findings from a recent phase II clinical trial show promising results for the immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab in the treatment of advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC).

Published online ahead of print in Cancer (Oct. 24, 2022), the study included 24 patients. Each patient was treated with nivolumab 3 mg/kg every two weeks until they experienced cancer progression, developed unacceptable toxicity or received 12 months of treatment.

During the trial, 14 patients (58.3%) benefited from the treatment, with their cancers demonstrating a response.

A total of 21 (87.5%) of the participants experienced treatment-related adverse events (TRAE). Six (25%) had grade three or worse TRAEs, and one patient discontinued treatment due to toxicities.

A history of radiotherapy was associated with a worse response.

“This is the first study to investigate nivolumab in this patient population, and it provides further evidence supporting the use of immune checkpoint blockers as standard therapies in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma,” said lead author Rodrigo R. Munhoz, MD, in a press release.

Dr. Munhoz is a medical oncologist at the Hospital Sírio-Libanês, Brazil.

An accompanying editorial notes that although the trial was small, its results were similar to those reported with pembrolizumab and cemiplimab, two other immune checkpoint inhibitors approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced cSCC. “In addition to providing more assurance to the clinical activity of different [immune checkpoint] inhibitors in this disease, this replicated data may permit a more widespread utilization of these agents in managing a common disease with global implications,” the authors wrote.


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