Safety of Nivolumab Added to Chemoradiation Therapy Platforms for Intermediate and High-Risk Locoregionally Advanced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Foundation 3504.

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


oregon; ppmc; portland


PURPOSE: Programmed death-1 immune checkpoint blockade improves survival of patients with recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), but the benefits of addition to (chemo)radiation for newly diagnosed patients with HNSCC remain unknown.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: We evaluated the safety of nivolumab concomitant with 70 Gy intensity modulated radiation therapy and weekly cisplatin (arm 1), every 3-week cisplatin (arm 2), cetuximab (arm 3), or alone for platinum-ineligible patients (arm 4) in newly diagnosed intermediate- or high-risk locoregionally advanced HNSCC. Patients received nivolumab from 2 weeks prior to radiation therapy until 3 months post-radiation therapy. The primary endpoint was dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). If ≤2 of the first 8 evaluable patients experienced a DLT, an arm was considered safe. Secondary endpoints included toxicity and feasibility of adjuvant nivolumab to 1 year, defined as all 7 additional doses received by ≥4 of the first 8 evaluable patients across arms.

RESULTS: Of 39 patients (10 in arms 1, 3, 4 and 9 in arm 2), 72% had T3-4 tumors, 85% had N2-3 nodal disease, and 67% had >10 pack-years of smoking. There were no DLTs in arms 1 and 2, 1 in arm 3 (mucositis), and 2 in arm 4 (lipase elevation and mucositis in 1 and fatigue in another). The most common grade ≥3 nivolumab-related adverse events were lipase increase, mucositis, diarrhea, lymphopenia, hyponatremia, leukopenia, fatigue, and serum amylase increase. Adjuvant nivolumab was feasible as defined in the protocol.

CONCLUSIONS: Concomitant nivolumab with the 4 tested regimens was safe for patients with intermediate- and high-risk HNSCC, and subsequent adjuvant nivolumab was feasible as defined (NCT02764593).

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