Pembrolizumab for the treatment of advanced salivary gland carcinoma

Roger B. Cohen, Jean Pierre Delord, Toshihiko Doi, Sarina A. Piha-Paul, Stephen V. Liu, Jill Gilbert, Alain P. Algazi, Silvia Damian, Ruey Long Hong, Christophe Le Tourneau, Daphne Day, Andrea Varga, Elena Elez, John Wallmark, Sanatan Saraf, Pradeep Thanigaimani, Jonathan Cheng, Bhumsuk Keam

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Treatment options for patients with unresectable or metastatic salivary gland carcinoma (SGC) are limited. Safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab for SGC expressing programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) were explored. Materials and Methods: A cohort of patients with advanced, PD-L1-positive SGC was enrolled in the nonrandomized, multicohort, phase Ib trial of pembrolizumab in patients with PD-L1-positive advanced solid tumors (KEYNOTE-028; NCT02054806). Key inclusion criteria included recurrent or metastatic disease, failure of prior systemic therapy, and PD-L1 expression on ≥1% of tumor or stroma cells (per a prototype immunohistochemistry assay). Patients received pembrolizumab 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks for ≥2 years or until confirmed disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Primary end point was objective response rate per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors version 1.1 by investigator review. Results: Twenty-six patients with PD-L1-positive SGC were enrolled and treated; median age was 57 years, 88% were men, and 74% had received prior therapy for recurrent/metastatic disease. Confirmed objective response rate after median follow-up of 20 months was 12% (95% confidence interval, 2%-30%), with 3 patients achieving partial response; there were no complete responses. Median duration of response was 4 months (range, 4 to 21 mo). Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 22 patients (85%), resulting in discontinuation in 2 patients and death in 1 (interstitial lung disease); those occurring in ≥15% of patients were diarrhea, decreased appetite, pruritus, and fatigue. Conclusions: Pembrolizumab demonstrated promising antitumor activity and a manageable safety profile in patients with advanced, PD-L1-positive SGC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1088
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-PD-1
  • Immunotherapy
  • Pembrolizumab
  • Salivary gland cancer

Cite this

Cohen, R. B., Delord, J. P., Doi, T., Piha-Paul, S. A., Liu, S. V., Gilbert, J., Algazi, A. P., Damian, S., Hong, R. L., Le Tourneau, C., Day, D., Varga, A., Elez, E., Wallmark, J., Saraf, S., Thanigaimani, P., Cheng, J., & Keam, B. (2018). Pembrolizumab for the treatment of advanced salivary gland carcinoma. American Journal of Clinical Oncology, 41(11), 1083-1088.