Frontline Libtayo Could Help Patients with Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Avoid Surgery

Dr. Jennifer L. Atlas notes that while these results could lead to a paradigm shift, surgery and radiation aren’t being eliminated as treatment options.

Promising results of a single-institution, retrospective study examining the use of Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) in the first line of treatment for patients with locally advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) has led some experts to believe that the drug could help prevent potentially disfiguring surgeries in this patient population.

In a recent interview with CURE®’s sister publication, OncLive®, Dr. Jennifer L. Atlas, a medical oncologist at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute, explained how the 72% overall response rate found in patients treated with Libtayo was particularly positive for those whose tumors were located in the head and neck area.

Atlas noted, however, that while these findings could lead to a paradigm shift, surgery and radiation aren’t being eliminated as treatment options.


I guess the two things that I would also want to bring up is just that we felt the overall response rate that we got from our cohort was 72%. So that is something I wanted to share, which was higher response rates then have maybe been reported in some previous data sets and protocols that had led to the drug’s approval.

Also, as far as baseline characteristics go with patients that we saw, while we tried to subcategorize into different locations, whether it was extremity, trunk, or head and neck, the vast majority of the patients that kind of met this locally advanced criteria that we defined earlier, were patients who had disease in the head and neck range that was going to lead to morbid surgeries that we were able to avoid.

And I think the, underlying conclusion from our standpoint was that maybe the upfront use of (Libtayo) should really be considered in some of these locally advanced patients in a way to potentially eliminate the need for disfiguring, complex surgeries for patients who, on a short course of treatment, are shown to be falling into the response category, that we might really be changing the paradigm and the order of treatment for some of these patients.

I don't think we're eliminating surgery or radiation as options. I think we're just adding something new to the mix.