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Chemotherapy postimmunotherapy for recurrent metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW: Clinical data on salvage chemotherapy used after checkpoints inhibitors in oncology are reviewed, with a special focus on recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (R/M HNSCC).

RECENT FINDINGS: Converging evidence is emerging about high response and/or disease control rates associated with salvage chemotherapy after immunotherapy failure in advanced solid tumours. This phenomenon is mainly reported in retrospective studies for "hot tumours" such as R/M HNSCC, melanoma, lung, urothelial or gastric cancers, but also in haematological malignancies. Some physiopathological hypotheses have been raised.

SUMMARY: Several independent series show increased response rates associated with postimmuno chemotherapy when compared with retrospective series in similar settings. Several mechanisms could be involved such as a "carry-over" allowed by a persistence of the checkpoint inhibitor, a modulation of tumour microenvironment components but also an intrinsic immunomodulatory effect of chemotherapy, increased by a specific immunologic state induced by the therapeutic pressure of checkpoint inhibitors. These data establish a rationale for prospectively evaluating the features of postimmunotherapy salvage chemotherapy.

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