Talimogene laherparepvec monotherapy for head and neck melanoma patients.

Franke V, Stahlie EHA, Klop WMC, Zuur CL, Berger DMS, van der Hiel B, van de Wiel BA, Wouters MWJM, van Houdt WJ, van Akkooi ACJ. Melanoma Res. 2022 Nov 29. doi: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000866. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36454284.


Talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) is a modified herpes simplex virus, type 1, intralesionally administered in patients with stage IIIB/C-IVM1a unresectable melanoma. When surgery is not a treatment option in the head and neck region, T-VEC can be an elegant alternative to systemic immunotherapy. Ten patients with metastatic melanoma in the head and neck region started treatment with T-VEC monotherapy at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. We collected data on response, adverse events (AEs), and baseline characteristics. For response evaluation, we used clinical evaluation with photography, 3-monthly PET/computed tomography (PET/CT) using 18F-fluoro-2-D-deoxyglucose, and histological biopsies. Median age at baseline was 78.2 (35-97) years with a median follow-up of 11.6months. Of these 10 patients, 5 had a complete response (CR), 3 had a partial response, 1 had stable disease and 1 showed progressive disease (PD) as their best response. Best overall response rate (ORR) was 80%. Median progression-free survival was 10.8 months (95% confidence interval, 2.2-19.4). Grade 1 AEs occurred in all patients. Mostly, these consisted of fatigue, influenza-like symptoms, and injection site pain. PET-CT and histological biopsies proved to be clinically useful tools to evaluate treatment response for T-VEC monotherapy, confirming pCR or PD to stage IV disease requiring systemic treatment. ORR for T-VEC monotherapy for melanoma in the head and neck region at our institute was 80% with 50% achieving a CR. This realworld data demonstrates promising results and suggests T-VEC can be an alternative to systemic therapy in this select, mostly elderly patient population.