Background: Modified docetaxel, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (mDCF) regimen has become a new standard for the treatment of metastatic or unresectable locally advanced recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the anus (SCCA) after demonstrating improved efficacy (12-month PFS of 47%) in the Epitopes-HPV02 trial. Antibodies targeting the checkpoint inhibitor (CKI) programmed cell death protein-1 (PD1) have demonstrated the efficacy as monotherapies in second-line treatment of SCCA. The aim of this study is to evaluate the combination of atezolizumab and mDCF as first-line chemotherapy in a non-comparative multicentre randomized phase II study of advanced SCCA patients.
Methods: Patients with chemo-naive advanced histologically proven SCCA, metastatic or unresectable locally advanced recurrence, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group-performance status (ECOG-PS) < 2 will be eligible. The primary endpoint is a 12-month PFS rate. Using one-arm non-parametric survival with unilateral alpha type I error of 5% and a statistical power of 80%, the upper critical value for the 12-month PFS rate is 47% to reject H0. Assuming 5% lost to follow-up, 99 patients will be randomized on a 2:1 basis, 66 to the experimental arm (arm A, mDCF plus atezolizumab) and 33 to the standard arm (arm B, mDCF). In both arms, 8 cycles of mDCF will be administered. In arm A, patients receive mDCF with a fixed dose of atezolizumab (800 mg every 2 weeks) and are followed up to 1 year. Secondary endpoints are overall survival, PFS, response rate, safety, health-related quality of life, and an extensive biomarker programme and its correlation with the treatment efficacy.
Discussion: Although the Epitopes-HPV02 trial has changed long-lasting prognosis of patients with SCCA in advanced stage disease, more than 50% of patients will progress at 12 months. The purpose of the SCARCE trial to establish the addition of atezolizumab to mDCF as a new standard in this rare disease. Associated biomarker studies and the control arm could contribute to better understanding of the potential synergic and tumour resistance mechanisms in SCCA.
Trial registration: NCT03519295.
Keywords: Advanced; Anal carcinoma; Atezolizumab; Chemotherapy; Docetaxel; Immunotherapy.