Immunotherapy in the First-Line Treatment of Advanced Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

GÜVEN D. C., Stephen B., ŞAHİN T. K., ÇAKIR İ. Y., AKSOY S.

Laryngoscope, vol.134, no.1, pp.7-17, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 134 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/lary.30754
  • Journal Name: Laryngoscope
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.7-17
  • Keywords: EBV, immune checkpoint inhibitor, immunotherapy, nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Objectives: Data regarding the clinical benefits of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are limited in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis of phase-III clinical trials to evaluate the benefit of adding ICIs to chemotherapy in the first-line treatment of advanced NPC. Methods: We conducted a systematic review using Web of Science, PubMed, and Embase for studies published until September 21, 2022. The meta-analyses were performed with the generic inverse-variance method with a random-effects model. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were the principal summary measures. This protocol was registered in the PROSPERO database (registration number: CRD 42022361866). Results: Three eligible studies with a total of 815 patients were included. The addition of ICIs to standard chemotherapy significantly improved PFS (HR: 0.52, 95% CI: 0.43–0.63, p < 0.0001). Although the OS results were immature, ICIs significantly reduced the risk of death (HR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.47–0.84, p = 0.0020). The benefit of ICIs was consistent regardless of initial disease presentation (recurrent or de novo), baseline EBV levels, PD-L1 expression, and ECOG performance status. No significant difference in the rates of serious adverse events (HR = 0.98, 95% CI 0.74–1.30) was found between the two groups. Conclusion: The available evidence demonstrates that adding ICIs to chemotherapy in the first-line treatment of advanced NPC provided better PFS with acceptable safety. However, a longer follow-up is required to evaluate the true OS benefit of these combinations. Level of Evidence: NA Laryngoscope, 2023.