Future Oncology Vol. No. | Research Article

Real-world time on treatment with immuno-oncology therapy in recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma


In this research article, published in our partner journal Future Oncology, authors describe real-world time on treatment (rwToT) with immuno-oncology (I-O) and other systemic therapies for the second-line treatment of recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (R/M HNSCC) previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy.  The primary study objectives were to assess rwToT in patients initiating second-line treatment with I-O and non-I-O therapies. Additionally, the authors describe baseline patient demographics, tumor characteristics and treatment distribution in the first- and second-line treatment settings of the 619 patients included in the sample.  The results of this study revealed that rwToT tended to be longer for I-O monotherapy than with non-I-O therapy. The demographic and clinical characteristics of the patients were generally similar to those reported in observational studies and clinical trials of patients with R/M HNSCC. The use of US FDA-approved I-O therapies, nivolumab and pembrolizumab, in R/M HNSCC patients previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy was common in US oncology practices and resulted in longer time on treatment with a greater proportion of patients continuing treatment at 1 year compared to other second-line therapies.


Background. We report rwToT with I-O and other systemic therapies in second-line R/M HNSCC previously treated with platinum therapies.

Materials & Methods. Adult patients receiving first-line platinum therapy for R/M HNSCC between January 2017–December 2018 and a second-line therapy were selected from a US electronic medical record database.

Results. In our study sample of 619 R/M HNSCC patients, second-line treatments primarily included I-O therapies (71%) and resulted in median rwToT of 2.8 months and a 12-month on-treatment rate of 19.3%. For other second-line therapies, median rwToT and 12-month on-treatment rate was 1.9 months and 1.3%, respectively.

Conclusions. Use of second-line I-O therapies was common and resulted in rwToT consistent with R/M HNSCC clinical trials.

View the full article