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Dr. Burtness on Ongoing Trials of Immunotherapy in Head and Neck Cancer

Barbara Burtness, MD, professor of Medicine, Yale Cancer Center, discusses some of the ongoing trials currently examining the use of immunotherapy to treat patients with head and neck cancer.

Barbara Burtness, MD, professor of Medicine, Yale Cancer Center, discusses some of the ongoing trials currently examining the use of immunotherapy to treat patients with head and neck cancer.

Two ongoing trials are comparing the combination of a CTLA-4 drug and a PD-1 agent, with standard chemotherapy with cetuximab (Erbitux). Another trial is comparing pembrolizumab (Keytruda) monotherapy, pembrolizumab with chemotherapy, and the FDA-approved standard chemotherapy with cetuximab.

Response rates have been a bit low in recent research that has assessed immunotherapy agents in head and neck cancer, says Burtness. However, the integration of a rapid response produced by chemotherapy, with a more durable response produced by an immunotherapy agent, could potentially demonstrate some very exciting results in the near future, according to Burtness.

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