Objective To characterize programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression and tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) positivity for locally aggressive or regionally metastatic cutaneous head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (cHNSCC). Study Design Retrospective chart review, followed by immunohistochemical staining of archived tumor specimens. Setting Tertiary academic medical center. Subjects and Methods After identification of 101 patients treated surgically for locally advanced or regionally metastatic cHNSCC, archived tissue was stained and graded for PD-L1 expression in addition to TIL presence. Cross-tabulation was performed to examine the association between either of these variables and clinicopathologic features and outcomes. Results A total of 101 patients met inclusion criteria, but archived tissue was available only for 83 (31 primaries, 52 metastases). The majority of primary tumors demonstrated grade 1 PD-L1 staining, while grade 2 staining was more likely for metastases. Neither high- nor low-grade PD-L1 expression correlated with any clinicopathologic variable for primary tumors. However, for metastases, high-grade staining was significantly associated with regional recurrence (15 of 19, P = .02). TILs were present for 65% of primary tumors and 90% of regional metastases but did not correlate with any clinicopathologic variables. Conclusion Diffuse expression of PD-L1 in this study highlights the possibility of using immunotherapy in the form of programmed death 1/PD-L1 blockade to improve treatment for this devastating disease. However, further studies are needed to clarify the significance of PD-L1 expression and TIL positivity for locally advanced or regionally metastatic cHNSCC.
View details for PubMedID 30012051