Dr. Topalian on the Treatment of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

Suzanne L. Topalian, MD
Published: Thursday, Apr 19, 2018



Suzanne L. Topalian, MD, director, Melanoma Program, professor of Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the treatment of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a very serious global health concern, explains Topalian. Only 70% of patients with early-stage disease will survive 5 years. The survival rate drops to less than 40% for those patients with metastatic stage IV disease. Topalian says that beyond the standard therapies of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, there is not much to offer patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Anti–PD-1 drugs are being developed in this space though, Topalian says. In the last year, there was a study on nivolumab (Opdivo) and a study on pembrolizumab (Keytruda), which both showed response rates of 20% to 25%. These results give a foundation to hopefully build upon, Topalian says. The tumor immune microenvironment is currently being studied extensively to find targets.


Suzanne L. Topalian, MD, director, Melanoma Program, professor of Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the treatment of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a very serious global health concern, explains Topalian. Only 70% of patients with early-stage disease will survive 5 years. The survival rate drops to less than 40% for those patients with metastatic stage IV disease. Topalian says that beyond the standard therapies of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, there is not much to offer patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Anti–PD-1 drugs are being developed in this space though, Topalian says. In the last year, there was a study on nivolumab (Opdivo) and a study on pembrolizumab (Keytruda), which both showed response rates of 20% to 25%. These results give a foundation to hopefully build upon, Topalian says. The tumor immune microenvironment is currently being studied extensively to find targets.



View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Clinical Interchange™: Translating Research to Inform Changing Paradigms: Assessment of Emerging Immuno-Oncology Strategies and Combinations across Lung, Head and Neck, and Bladder CancersOct 31, 20182.0
Community Practice Connections™: Precision Medicine for Community Oncologists: Assessing the Role of Tumor-Testing Technologies in Cancer CareNov 30, 20181.0
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