Oncological diseases of the head and neck are often diagnosed at the terminal stages, when it is almost impossible to completely cure the patient, but there is a chance to prolong his life and alleviate his suffering. Existing treatment standards include aggressive chemotherapy, which is associated with pain, nausea, loss of appetite, breathing problems, and other side effects.
An international team of scientists led by experts from the Cancer Research Institute in London has tested a more gentle approach using immunotherapy with very encouraging results. Scientists spoke about them at the Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology, which took place online.
The researchers used a combination of the immunotherapy drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab to help 947 patients with end-stage head and neck cancer. The best result was observed in patients with high levels of PD-L1 receptors, which are actively expressed on the surface of tumor cells, suppressing the body's immune response.