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An update on the immune landscape in lung and head and neck cancers
CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians  (IF508.702),  Pub Date : 2020-08-25, DOI: 10.3322/caac.21630
Jennifer W. Carlisle, Conor E. Steuer, Taofeek K. Owonikoko, Nabil F. Saba

Immunotherapy has dramatically changed the treatment landscape for patients with cancer. Programmed death–ligand 1/programmed death‐1 checkpoint inhibitors have been in the forefront of this clinical revolution. Currently, there are 6 US Food and Drug Administration‐approved checkpoint inhibitors for approximately 18 different histologic types of cancer. Lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are 2 diseases that have led the way in the development of immunotherapy. Atezolizumab, durvalumab, nivolumab, and pembrolizumab are all currently used as part of standard‐of‐care treatment for different stages of lung cancer. Similarly, nivolumab and pembrolizumab have US regulatory approval as treatment for advanced metastatic HNSCC. This is significant because lung cancer represents the most common and most fatal cancer globally, and HNSCC is the sixth most common. Currently, most of the approvals for the use of immunotherapy agents are for patients diagnosed in the metastatic setting. However, research is ongoing to evaluate these drugs in earlier stage disease. There is plausible biological rationale to expect that pharmacologic activation of the immune system will be effective for early‐stage and smaller tumors. In addition, selecting patients who are more likely to respond to immunotherapy and understanding why resistance develops are crucial areas of ongoing research. The objective of this review was to provide an overview of the current immune landscape and future directions in lung cancer and HNSCC.