(HealthDay News) — Among patients with local regionally advanced oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma, rates of postoperative adverse events appear to be similar for those receiving neoadjuvant pembrolizumab or standard-of-care treatment, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Alice L. Tang, MD, from the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues evaluated the incidence of postoperative adverse events in 32 treatment-naïve patients with advanced oral cavity cancer receiving neoadjuvant pembrolizumab versus matched controls.

The researchers found that postoperative adverse events in the 32 patients receiving pembrolizumab included lymphedema (63%), trismus (22%), return to operating room (22%), wound infection (22%), fistula (19%), wound dehiscence (13%), flap failure (9%), and hematoma (6%). Similar complications were seen in the control group, except for trismus (50%), which was greater by a difference of 28.1% in the control group.


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“Neoadjuvant pembrolizumab does not appear to be associated with higher rates of adverse events in the setting of advanced head and neck cancer and does not appear to increase perioperative morbidity,” the authors wrote.

One author disclosed financial ties to biotechnology companies, including Merck, the manufacturer of pembrolizumab.

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