Pembrolizumab in cervical cancer: latest evidence and clinical usefulness

Ther Adv Med Oncol. 2017 Jun;9(6):431-439. doi: 10.1177/1758834017708742. Epub 2017 May 8.


Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. With the development of detection of precancerous lesions and preventive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, a survival improvement has been observed in these patients in developed countries, although disparities in accessibility to treatments exist across countries. While early-stage cervical cancer can be curable with surgery, prognosis of patients who recur remains poor, with limited treatment options. In this latter setting, recently, bevacizumab, an antiangiogenic monoclonal antibody targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), has been shown to improve overall survival in combination with chemotherapy as compared with chemotherapy alone. No standard treatments exist beyond this treatment regimen. New effective treatments are therefore much needed in this setting. Immunotherapy has represented a breakthrough in recent years in oncology, with antitumor activity reported with immune-checkpoint inhibitors in a variety of tumor types. We discuss here the latest evidence and clinical usefulness of pembrolizumab, anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, in the treatment of advanced cervical cancer.

Keywords: cervical cancer; immune checkpoints; immunotherapy; pembrolizumab.

Publication types

  • Review