Treatment Response of Gingival Squamous-Cell Carcinoma to Palliative Intent Immunotherapy

Curr Oncol. 2023 Dec 18;30(12):10519-10529. doi: 10.3390/curroncol30120767.


The use of PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor medications has become a common practice in the treatment of recurrent and metastatic head and neck squamous-cell carcinomas. Success in this setting has led to the investigation of their efficacy in locally advanced cases as a part of first-line therapy. In this report, we detail the treatment response to palliative intent immunotherapy of three geriatric patients with mandibular gingival squamous-cell carcinoma who decided against surgical intervention. Patient #1 was treated with pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, and displayed complete clinical and radiologic response of the gingival mass after three months of treatment, which is ongoing at 19 months from initiation. Patients #2 and 3 are each on treatment with single-agent pembrolizumab, with partial response of their tumors, minimal side effects, and ongoing response at 9 and 5 months of treatment, respectively. Durable clinical treatment response to palliative immunotherapy, as is evident in this report, warrants further consideration and investigation in the geriatric population. With appropriate patient selection, surgery may be avoided and allow patients to prioritize quality of life over curative intent surgery.

Keywords: head and neck squamous-cell carcinomas; immunotherapy; palliative intent; squamous-cell carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Immunotherapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / therapy


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.