Checkpoint Inhibitors in Head and Neck Cancer: Rationale, Clinical Activity, and Potential Biomarkers

  • Panagiota EconomopoulouEmail author
  • Ioannis Kotsantis
  • Amanda PsyrriEmail author
Head and Neck Cancer (J-P Machiels, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Head and Neck Cancer

Opinion statement

The discovery and antibody targeting of immune regulatory molecules such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) pathways have led to clinically meaningful anti-cancer results. Rapid advances are being made in a variety of tumor types resulting in regulatory approvals in melanoma, non small cell lung cancer, and renal cell cancer. Numerous ongoing studies are expected to establish the worth of PD-1 pathway inhibitors in other tumor types as well as in combinations with approved agents. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) represents a complex group of malignancies characterized by profound immunosuppression and is an excellent candidate for investigation in this exciting field. However, given the fact that a subset of patients will likely benefit, it is critical to focus on biomarker development for appropriate patient selection and facilitation of trial design. As immunotherapy is settling in cancer treatment, immune checkpoint inhibitors are emerging as one of the most promising agents.


PD-1 CTLA-4 PD-L1 Head and neck cancer Biomarkers Monoclonal antibodies 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Medical Oncology, Attikon University HospitalNational Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of MedicineHaidariGreece

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