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Pembrolizumab: effective immunotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer

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


Key points from article :

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.

Mentioned in this article:

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Kevin Harrington

Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Professor specializes in Biological Cancer Therapies, head and neck cancer, immunotherapy

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

This institution provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

Paul Workman

Chief Executive and President of The Institute of Cancer Research.

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Hospital dedicated to cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

One of the world’s most influential cancer research organizations

The Lancet

Medical journal covering general medicine

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