Novel Systemic Treatment Modalities Including Immunotherapy and Molecular Targeted Therapy for Recurrent and Metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Soma Ghosh, Pooja A. Shah, Faye M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are the sixth most common cancers worldwide. More than half of patients with HNSCC eventually experience disease recurrence and/or metastasis, which can threaten their long-term survival. HNSCCs located in the oral cavity and larynx are usually associated with tobacco and/or alcohol use, whereas human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, particularly HPV16 infection, is increasingly recognized as a cause of oropharyngeal HNSCC. Despite clinical, histologic, and molecular differences between HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCCs, current treatment approaches are the same. For recurrent disease, these strategies include chemotherapy, immunotherapy with PD-1-inhibitors, or a monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, that targets epidermal growth factor; these therapies can be administered either as single agents or in combination. However, these treatment strategies carry a high risk of toxic side effects; therefore, more effective and less toxic treatments are needed. The landscape of HNSCC therapy is changing significantly; numerous clinical trials are underway to test novel therapeutic options like adaptive cellular therapy, antibody-drug conjugates, new targeted therapy agents, novel immunotherapy combinations, and therapeutic vaccines. This review helps in understanding the various developments in HNSCC therapy and sheds light on the path ahead in terms of further research in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7889
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume23
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Funding

Faye M. Johnson received research funding from Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Viracta Therapeutics, and Trovagene. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

FundersFunder number
Viracta Therapeutics
Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A.

    Keywords

    • cetuximab
    • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
    • human papillomavirus
    • immune-checkpoint inhibitor
    • novel targeted therapy

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