Pembrolizumab: effective immunotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer


An immunotherapy drug proves to be more effective than extreme chemotherapy in some patients.
Pembrolizumab kept head and neck cancers under control for an average of two years.
One in four patients with advanced head and neck cancer responded to the drug.
Does not kill cancer cells itself but instead stimulates the body's immune system to attack them.
Around 85% of people with advanced or relapsed head and neck cancer would be eligible for this.
Far fewer side effects, improves quality of life and doesn't damage kidneys, hands and feet.
In the US and the EU, pembrolizumab has been approved, could be approved for use in UK soon.
Research by Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, published in the Lancet.

Needs to identify those who will respond to treatment before starting immunotherapy
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