Debate: The appropriate use of checkpoint inhibition (CPI) in the management of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN)

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Debate: The appropriate use of checkpoint inhibition (CPI) in the management of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN)

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When looking at head and neck cancers, 90% of cases are squamous cell carcinomas (SCCHN). Treatment choices and prognosis may vary depending on location and staging, and therapeutic options include combinations of resection, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.1 With the many strides in the field of immuno-oncology, a particular focus should be put on checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs). By modifying T-lymphocyte activity against evasive tumor cells, CPIs have been used to treat a wide array of cancers with growing research on its use in SCCHN.1,2 Today the standard of care for treating SCCHN for curative intent and for recurrence is platinum-based chemotherapy. Currently, nivolumab and pembrolizumab are PD-1 inhibitors with FDA indications to treat recurrent and metastic SCCHN. Numerous ongoing trials are looking into using CPIs as monotherapy against chemotherapy alone and in combination with other CPIs, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.2

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