Pembrolizumab monotherapy for recurrent or metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: A single-arm phase II trial (KEYNOTE-629)

Jean Jacques Grob*, Rene Gonzalez, Nicole Basset-Seguin, Olga Vornicova, Jacob Schachter, Abhishek Joshi, Nicolas Meyer, Florent Grange, Josep M. Piulats, Jessica R. Bauman, Pingye Zhang, Burak Gumuscu, Ramona F. Swaby, Brett G.M. Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Treatment options are limited for patients with recurrent and/or metastatic (R/M) cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC); mortality rates exceed 70% in patients with distant metastases. Here, we present the first interim analysis of the R/M cSCC cohort from the 2-cohort—locally advanced and R/M—phase II KEYNOTE-629 study. PATIENTS AND METHODS Patients with R/M cSCC not amenable to surgery or radiation received pembrolizumab 200 mg every 3 weeks. The primary end point was objective response rate per RECIST v1.1. Secondary end points were duration of response, disease control rate, progression-free survival, overall survival, and safety. RESULTS At data cutoff (April 8, 2019), median follow-up of 105 enrolled patients in the R/M cohort was 11.4 months (range, 0.4 to 16.3 months). Objective response rate was 34.3% (95% CI, 25.3% to 44.2%; 4 complete responses, 32 partial responses), and disease control rate was 52.4% (95% CI, 42.4% to 62.2%). Median duration of response was not reached (range, 2.7 to 13.11 months; ‘1’ refers to ongoing response at data cutoff). Median progression-free survival was 6.9 months (95% CI, 3.1 months to 8.5 months). Median overall survival was not reached (95% CI, 10.7 months to not reached). Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 66.7% of patients (n 5 70), the most common of which were pruritus (n 5 15; 14.3%), asthenia (n 5 14; 13.3%), and fatigue (n 5 13; 12.4%). Grade 3 to 5 treatment-related adverse events occurred in 5.7% (n 5 6) of patients. One patient died of treatment-related cranial nerve neuropathy. CONCLUSION Pembrolizumab demonstrated effective antitumor activity; clinically meaningful, durable responses; and acceptable safety in primarily elderly patients with R/M cSCC, supporting its use in clinical practice. Pembrolizumab adverse events in this study were consistent with its established safety profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2916-2925
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number25
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
ApotheCom pembrolizumab team
Merck Sharp and Dohme


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