Head and neck cancer account for about 4% of all cancers in the United States. According to GloboCan, the HNSCC incidence in the US in 2020 was estimated to be 63,520 cases. As per estimates, it was observed that HNSCC is slightly more common in men than in women. The research and development and advent of advanced medical technologies have transformed the Head and neck cancers treatment landscape. If diagnosed early, many cancers of the head and neck can be treated.
The major treatment options available include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Generally, Head and neck tumors can be treated using a single modality for early-stage disease. However, if the tumor advances to later stages, a multimodality approach is opted, and the therapeutic approach changes with the severity, and location of the tumor.
Generalized first-line therapy based on the stage of the cancer is chemoradiation therapy and induction chemotherapy for locally advanced disease, and first-, second-, and third-line chemotherapy for metastatic or recurrent disease. The USFDA has approved two immunotherapies Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Further, targeted therapies such as Erbitux (Cetuximab), have also been marketed in the US as well as Europe.
Although, the primary goal of the treatment is to eliminate the cancerous cells, restoring and preserving the function of organs, nerves, and tissue holds an equally important place. The rates of recurrence or relapses of tumors in the head and neck also tend to pose a major burden on healthcare. As per estimates, Loco-regional relapse is reported in nearly 80% of cases where primary treatment fails to bring outcomes. Clearly, there is a need for personalized therapies that help in prolonging the survival rates.
Nevertheless, the development of targeted therapies, immunotherapies have proven to be of vital importance in treating patients with heterogeneous disease by providing them with personalized care. A better understanding of the histology of cancer, discovery of potential biomarkers, and further characterization of HPV- and EBV-related cancers are expected to further help in advancing the Head and neck cancer therapeutics market.
DelveInsight estimates the dynamics of the HNSCC market is anticipated to change in the coming years owing to the improvement in the diagnosis methodologies, incremental healthcare spending across the world, and also the expected launch of emerging therapies such as Lenvatinib (E7080/MK7902) (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.), SCT-I10A+Chemo (Sinocelltech Ltd.), GSK3359609 (GlaxoSmithKline), Atezolizumab (Hoffmann-La Roche), MEDI4736 (AstraZeneca), Ficlatuzumab (AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) and others during the forecast period.
Lenvatinib (E7080/MK-7902) is Merck’s lead product in Phase III clinical trial. The trial is evaluating safety and efficacy of Pembrolizumab and Lenvatinib as 1L Intervention in a PD-L1 selected population with recurrent or metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (R/M HNSCC) (LEAP-010). Sinocelltech is investigating SCT-I10A+ Chemo, an oral, investigational drug in patients with certain head and neck cancers. With plans to advance its oncology pipeline, GlaxoSmithKline is running a Phase 3 trial of GSK3359609 to evaluate if the addition of GSK3359609 to pembrolizumab as first-line treatment yields better outcomes in recurrent or metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma/cancer. Another pharma titan Roche is also running in the race with its Atezolizumab in phase III of clinical development.
Another oral, investigational drug, Tipifarnib is under development in Kura Oncology in patients with certain head and neck cancers that carry HRAS mutations-a proto-oncogene. It is currently in phase II development, and recently has received the US FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation with recurrent or metastatic HRAS-mutant head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with variant allele frequency (VAF) ≥ 20% after disease progression on platinum-based chemotherapy. AVEO Pharmaceuticals is betting on an EGFR-targeted antibody, Ficlatuzumab, in cetuximab-resistant, recurrent metastatic HNSCC. The therapy is an ongoing randomized, open-label confirmatory Phase II study.
With pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Sinocelltech, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffmann-La Roche, AstraZeneca, AVEO Pharmaceuticals, and others working in the HNSCC market landscape, the market size is anticipated to experience a major push in the coming years. The expected approval and entry of the pipeline therapies in the Head and neck cancers treatment market shall fuel the growth of the market size during the forecast period 2021–2030. At present, only a fraction of the patients are able to get the advantage of immunotherapies, thus, the discovery of personalized markers increased knowledge of HNSCC, patients’ response to different therapies, a better understanding of the immune checkpoint cellular processes shall propel the market size growth.