A Phase II Study of Pembrolizumab Immunotherapy Before Surgery in Patients with Locally Advanced Operable Head and Neck Cancers


Full Title

Immunotherapy With MK-3475 in Locoregionally Advanced, Surgically Resectable Head And Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma


The purpose of this study is to see if giving pembrolizumab immunotherapy before surgery for head and neck cancer reduces the risk of the cancer coming back or spreading. Patients will receive pembrolizumab before surgery, and then have the standard treatment they would usually have after surgery (radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy).

Pembrolizumab boosts the immune system’s ability to find and kill cancer cells by blocking PD-1, a protein cancer cells use to hide from the immune system. It is given intravenously (by vein).


To be eligible for this study, patients must meet several criteria, including but not limited to the following:

  • Patients must have previously untreated stage III or IV head and neck cancer which is negative for the human papillomavirus (HPV-negative).
  • Patients must be physically well enough that they are fully ambulatory, capable of all self care, and are capable of all but physically strenuous activities. As an example, patients must be well enough that they would be able to carry out office work or light housework.
  • This study is for patients age 18 and older.

For more information and to inquire about eligibility for this study, please contact Dr. Luc Morris at 212-639-3049.