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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.



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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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