Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Italian Multicentric Retrospective Analysis of Patient Profiles and Therapeutic Approaches

Dermatology. 2023;239(3):422-428. doi: 10.1159/000528555. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


Background: Advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (aCSCC) represents an area of unmet clinical need, with no standardized treatments until the recent approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs).

Objectives: The aim of the study was to describe clinical characteristics and therapeutic strategies of a real-life Italian cohort of aCSCC patients managed at the beginning of cemiplimab approval as compassionate use in Italy.

Methods: A multicenter retrospective study was performed by 10 Italian centers in the period January 1, 2018-May 31, 2020. Patients aged ≥18 years and diagnosed with aCSCC (locally aCSCC and metastatic CSCC) were eligible for the study. Analysis of patients' characteristics and treatment strategies was performed.

Results: 239 patients were initially recruited in the study: 19 patients were excluded due to incomplete data collection, yielding a final cohort of 220 patients, of which 191 and 220 were included for patients' clinical characteristics and therapeutic intervention analysis, respectively. Median age at the time of diagnosis was 81 years (range: 72-86); nodal metastases were detected in 64/220 (29%) patients, and distant metastatic spread was reported in 33/220 (15%) patients. Most of our patients referred chronic occupational and/or recreational sun exposure, experienced ≥1 sunburn during their lifetime, never wore hats or used photoprotective filters, and presented with signs of cumulative sun damage (solar lentigines and/or actinic keratosis). Majority of our cohort received at least one intervention directed to the primary tumor (n = 212, 96.3%); surgery and radiotherapy were the most common therapeutic choices. Immunotherapy was administered to a small number of patients as compassionate use, especially in the metastatic setting.

Conclusions: Our study outlines the complex and heterogeneous clinical and therapeutic landscape of aCSCC patients at the beginning of ICI era, highlighting the need of a standardized care for this fragile and high-need patient population.

Keywords: Advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; Cemiplimab; Immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological* / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Keratosis, Actinic
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • cemiplimab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological