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Dr. Ferris Discusses Nivolumab in Head and Neck Cancer

Robert Ferris, MD, PhD
Published: Thursday, Jun 21, 2018



Robert Ferris, MD, PhD, vice chair for Clinical Operations, associate director for Translational Research, and co-leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, discusses nivolumab (Opdivo) in the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer.

The updated 2-year findings from the CheckMate-141 trial showed a 32% reduction in the risk of death in patients with metastatic or recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck treated with nivolumab compared to chemotherapy. Additionally, the 2-year overall survival (OS) rate was 16.9% with nivolumab, and the median OS was 7.7 months. The tolerability of nivolumab was superior to chemotherapy as well, providing a better quality of life for these patients, Ferris explains.

Ferris says that there are 2 big questions—who will benefit from nivolumab therapy, and can patients be selected by HPV status? In CheckMate-141, patients who were HPV-positive demonstrated similar benefit to those who were HPV-negative. There was an approximate 40% reduction in the risk of death for all patients treated with nivolumab, Ferris says.

PD-L1 testing has been suggested as another way to choose patients for checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Ferris says that findings from CheckMate-141 suggest that all patients, regardless of PD-L1 status, still benefitted.


Robert Ferris, MD, PhD, vice chair for Clinical Operations, associate director for Translational Research, and co-leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, discusses nivolumab (Opdivo) in the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer.

The updated 2-year findings from the CheckMate-141 trial showed a 32% reduction in the risk of death in patients with metastatic or recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck treated with nivolumab compared to chemotherapy. Additionally, the 2-year overall survival (OS) rate was 16.9% with nivolumab, and the median OS was 7.7 months. The tolerability of nivolumab was superior to chemotherapy as well, providing a better quality of life for these patients, Ferris explains.

Ferris says that there are 2 big questions—who will benefit from nivolumab therapy, and can patients be selected by HPV status? In CheckMate-141, patients who were HPV-positive demonstrated similar benefit to those who were HPV-negative. There was an approximate 40% reduction in the risk of death for all patients treated with nivolumab, Ferris says.

PD-L1 testing has been suggested as another way to choose patients for checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Ferris says that findings from CheckMate-141 suggest that all patients, regardless of PD-L1 status, still benefitted.



View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Medical Crossfire®: How Can We Optimize Outcomes in Head and Neck Cancers with Immunotherapeutic Strategies?Oct 31, 20191.5
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