Purpose: Approximately 5% of patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) may develop recurrent or metastatic disease. The management of such cases is challenging and requires multi-disciplinary care. Immunotherapy using PD-1 inhibition was approved to treat unresectable or metastatic CSCC in 2018. Given limited data regarding clinical outcomes outside of published trials, we describe our experience using this therapy. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all patients treated with PD-1 inhibition as therapy for locally advanced, regionally metastatic or distant metastatic CSCC at the University of Southern California. Clinicopathological characteristics, treatment data using PD-1 inhibitors, and outcomes were assessed. Results: Among 26 patients treated with PD-1 inhibition, the objective response rate was 42.3%, with 19.2% of patients having partial response and 23.1% having complete response to therapy. The median progression-free survival was 5.4 months. Median tumor mutational burden (TMB) was higher among responders compared to non-responders (60 vs. 9 Mut/Mb, p = 0.04). Primary CSCC tumor location on the head/neck was also associated with response to PD-1 inhibition (p = 0.04). Two patients with mutations affecting mismatch repair deficiency were noted to have complete response to treatment. No other variables were associated with treatment outcomes. Conclusion: PD-1 inhibition produces durable responses among patients with advanced or metastatic CSCC. PD-1 inhibition therapy is well tolerated, but patients should be monitored closely for immune-related adverse events, particularly frail or immune-suppressed patients. Further investigation of potential biomarkers to help identify patients who will derive the most benefit from this therapeutic option is needed.
- Checkpoint blockade
- Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
- Skin cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research