Immunotherapy of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Immune checkpoint blockade
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Treating patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is a significant problem. There is an increase in the incidence of malignant neoplasms in this region. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are often not sufficient methods of treatment. Thorough analysis of processes occurring in the tumor microenvironment has allowed to distinguish three stages that make up the reaction of the human body to hostile antigens, which are tumor antigens. Understanding these mechanisms has resulted in the introduction of a new term immune-oncology. It is an area of cancer treatment that focuses on use of the patient’s immune system to combat the disease. Immunotherapy has had positive effects in cancer patients. The use of immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-CTLA-4 and PD-1 monoclonal antibodies has enabled the modulation of T cell functions, consequently eliminating immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Clinical trials were conducted using nivolumab and ipilimumab, which confirmed their clinical usefulness. The approval by FDA of nivolumab in treatment of recurrent and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck has increased the overall survival time of patients as well as disease free survival. Statistical data indicate an advantage of immunotherapy over other treatment methods at an advanced stage of cancer. This work aims to discuss basic issues related to immunotherapy, in particular immunotherapy in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
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