Acta Oncol. 2022 Aug 1:1-7. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2022.2103387. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to investigate phase IV efficacy, of the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab among an unselected and unbiased national cohort of recurrent/metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (rmHNSCC) patients.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Inclusion criteria included histologically confirmed rmHNSCC and nivolumab as a second-line palliative treatment. Data were collected from patient files at the five Danish head and neck cancer centers and from the DAHANCA database. The iRECIST criteria were used for treatment evaluation.Endpoints were response rate (RR), overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS), calculated from the start of treatment to the date of event/censoring by the KM-method. Descriptive statistics were used to describe patients and treatment. Analyses were two-sided, with p < .05 considered significant.
RESULTS: A total of 146 patients were identified in the period 2017-2020. They had a RR of 14%, median OS of 10.2 months [95% CI: 8.2-12.2] and median PFS of 3.1 months [95% CI: 2.3-4.2]. Patient age (≥ 70 years) or comorbidity did not significantly affect outcome. WHO performance status (PS) =1 was associated with an increased risk of death (HR: 2.1 [95% CI: 1.2-4.0], p = .02) and progression (HR: 1.9 [95% CI: 1.2-3.2], p = .01). Concomitant glucocorticoid-treatment during immunotherapy (≥ 50% of treatment time) appeared important for risk of death (HR: 6.4 [95% CI: 2.3-17.8], p < .001) and risk of progression (HR: 4.8 [95% CI: 1.8-12.5], p = .001). PD-L1 expression ≥ 20% was associated with a lowered risk of progression (HR: 0.5 [95% CI: 0.3-0.7], p = .001), but not lowered risk of death.
CONCLUSION: In this unselected national cohort, outcome of second-line treatment reflects data from the registration studies. Furthermore, the results suggest that immunotherapy should be used with great care in treatment of rmHNSCC in patients with poor performance.