Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2022. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Clin Oncol. May 24, 2022; 13(5): 388-411
Published online May 24, 2022. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v13.i5.388
Immune checkpoint inhibitors in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: A systematic review of phase-3 clinical trials
Jissy Vijo Poulose, Cessal Thommachan Kainickal
Jissy Vijo Poulose, National Fellowship in Palliative Medicine (Training Program), Institute of Palliative Medicine, Calicut 673008, Kerala, India
Cessal Thommachan Kainickal, Department of Radiation Oncology, Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram 695011, Kerala, India
Author contributions: Kainickal CT contributed to conceptualization; Poulose JV contributed to the methodology and literature search; Both authors participated in drafting and critically revising the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Authors have nothing to disclose.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Cessal Thommachan Kainickal, MBBS, MD, Additional Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Regional Cancer Centre, Medical College Campus, Thiruvananthapuram 695011, Kerala, India.
Received: August 26, 2021
Peer-review started: August 26, 2021
First decision: October 22, 2021
Revised: November 3, 2021
Accepted: May 5, 2022
Article in press: May 5, 2022
Published online: May 24, 2022
Core Tip

Core Tip: Immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated better survival outcomes and acceptable toxicity profiles in recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in the first and second-line treatment settings. While anti- programmed cell death protein-1 agents demonstrated efficacy, evidence on the effectiveness of anti-programmed death ligand-1 and anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 agents is lacking. There is no proven efficacy in the curative setting to date. Gaps in knowledge were found in terms of predictive biomarkers and identification of patients who would benefit from immunotherapy based on biomarker assessment. Several promising trials are currently ongoing to fill this knowledge gap. Novel combination strategies to potentiate and prolong the anti-tumor activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors are also being evaluated currently.