A Randomized Phase 2 Study of Pembrolizumab With or Without Radiation in Patients With Recurrent or Metastatic Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

Umair Mahmood, Andrew Bang, Yu Hui Chen, Raymond H. Mak, Jochen H. Lorch, Glenn J. Hanna, Mizuki Nishino, Claire Manuszak, Emily M. Thrash, Mariano Severgnini, Matthew Sanborn, Vishwajith Sridharan, Danielle N. Margalit, Roy B. Tishler, Paul M. Busse, Henning Willers, Harvey J. Mamon, Hyung Jin Yoo, Sara I. Pai, Lori J. WirthRobert I. Haddad, Nicole G. Chau, Jonathan D. Schoenfeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose: We evaluated the safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab (pembro) ± radiation therapy (RT) in a phase 2 study among patients with progressive, metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC). Methods and Materials: Eligible patients had metastatic ACC with progression within the last year and ≥1 measurable lesion. Patients were randomized to pembro alone or with RT to 30 Gy in 5 fractions (pembroRT). The primary endpoint was objective response rate outside the RT field. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and local RT responses. Results: We randomized 20 patients (10 per arm) from 2017 to 2018. We did not observe objective response outside of the radiation treatment field; stable disease (SD) was the best response in 12 (60%) patients and was not different per arm (7 pembro, 5 pembroRT, P =.65). A tumor growth rate decrease (TGR) of >25% was noted among 7 of 12 patients and >75% in 4 patients. There were local responses in the irradiated field among all evaluable pembroRT patients. Median PFS and OS were 4.5/not reached for pembroRT and 6.6 / 27.2 months for pembro patients. One patient developed grade 3 liver enzyme elevation after 27 cycles of therapy. Correlative analyses confirm low levels of programmed death-ligand 1 expression (PD-L1), and CD8 infiltrating T-cells. We identified associations between local response and both MYB/NFIB translocation and PD-L1 expression and between changes in systemic immune populations and RT. Conclusions: Pembrolizumab and pembroRT were well tolerated. We observed no objective responses, but 60% of patients with PD before the study achieved SD, the majority with decreased TGR and half (n = 10) with clinical benefit (SD >6 months). We observed favorable local responses within the RT field. Additional strategies are needed to further delay progression and effect response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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