This study is a prospective, multi-institutional, open-label, randomized phase II trial that
will evaluate the efficacy of concurrent and adjuvant pembrolizumab with radiation therapy
(RT) versus RT plus cisplatin in intermediate/high-riskp16-positive locoregionally advanced
head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The primary endpoint is progression-free
- p16-positive squamous cell carcinoma of the pharynx, larynx or oral cavity
- High-Intermediate Risk Disease, defined as:
- T1-T3 N2 M0 or T3 N1 M0 or any stage III (T4 or N3) p16+ squamous cell carcinoma
of the oropharynx (AJCC 8th edition staging system)
- T1-2 N1-3 M0 or T3-4 N0-3 M0 (stage III-IVB) p16+ squamous cell carcinoma of the
hypopharynx or larynx
- T1-2 N2-3 M0 or T3-4 N0-3 M0 (stage III-IVB) p16+ squamous cell carcinoma of the
- Inoperable T4 N0-3 M0 (stage IVA-IVB) p16+ squamous cell carcinoma of the oral
- Measurable disease based on RECIST 1.1
- Adequate hematologic function within 28 days prior to registration
- Adequate renal and hepatic function
- Female subject of childbearing potential should have a negative pregnancy test
- Female subjects of childbearing potential must agree to use an adequate method of
contraception for the course of the study
- Male subjects must agree to use an adequate method of contraception for the course of
- Prior malignancy within the past 3 years (except non-melanomatous skin cancer and
early stage treated prostate cancer);
- Prior head and neck radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy;
- Prior oncologic (radical) surgery to the primary site;
- Documented evidence of distant metastases;
- Severe, active co-morbidity defined as follows:
- Unstable angina and/or congestive heart failure requiring hospitalization within
the last 6 months;
- Transmural myocardial infarction within the last 6 months;
- Acute bacterial or fungal infection requiring intravenous antibiotics at the time
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease exacerbation or other respiratory illness
requiring hospitalization or precluding study therapy within 30 days of
- Hepatic insufficiency resulting in clinical jaundice and/or coagulation defects
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) based upon current CDC definition;
note, however, that HIV testing is not required for entry into this protocol.
- Any medical or psychiatric illness, which, in the opinion of the principal
investigator, would compromise the patient's ability to tolerate this treatment;
- Psychiatric/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements
- Hypersensitivity to pembrolizumab or any of its excipients.
- Active autoimmune disease that has required systemic treatment in the past 2 years
(i.e. with use of disease modifying agents, corticosteroids or immunosuppressive
drugs). Replacement therapy (eg., thyroxine, insulin, or physiologic corticosteroid
replacement therapy for adrenal or pituitary insufficiency, etc.) is not considered a
form of systemic treatment.
- Known history of, or any evidence of active, non-infectious pneumonitis.
- Active infection requiring systemic therapy.
- Is pregnant or breastfeeding, or expecting to conceive or father children within the
projected duration of the trial, starting with the pre-screening or screening visit
through 120 days after the last dose of trial treatment.
- Has received prior therapy with an anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1, or anti-PD-L2 agent.
- Known history of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (HIV 1/2 antibodies).
- Known active Hepatitis B (e.g., HBsAg reactive) or Hepatitis C (e.g., HCV RNA
[qualitative] is detected).
- Has received a live vaccine within 30 days of planned start of study therapy.