Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used on its own for the treatment of advanced, incurable head and neck cancer
In 2020, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany) looked into whether pembrolizumab has any advantages or disadvantages compared to the standard treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck – either in adults whose cancer has returned and can’t be operated on, or those whose cancer has formed tumors elsewhere in the body (metastasis). In addition, the cancer cells must have the protein PD-L1.
The data of over 500 patients in one study was analyzed for this assessment: 257 participants were given pembrolizumab, and 255 participants had a standard treatment of cetuximab and platinum-based chemotherapy.
This is what was found: