Near complete response to Pembrolizumab in microsatellite-stable metastatic sebaceous carcinoma

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Background: Sebaceous carcinoma is an aggressive adnexal skin tumor with a predilection for the eyelids and sebaceous glands of the head and neck. Case presentation: A 73 year-old man presented with confusion and was found to have widely disseminated sebaceous carcinoma with metastases to brain, lungs, liver, bowel, lymph nodes, and bone. Following initial treatment of the brain metastases with surgery he received post-operative radiosurgery. He then began systemic immunotherapy with pembrolizumab. After 6 months, he developed a near complete response to therapy by irRECIST and RECIST v.1.1. The response was associated with circulating CD8+ T cells with central memory (CM) and effector memory (EM) phenotype and mature CD16 + CD57+ NK cells. During treatment the patient developed adrenal insufficiency requiring high-dose systemic corticosteroids and later adrenal replacement therapy. After 12-months of follow-up he showed imaging evidence of progression in liver, mediastinum, and abdominal lymph nodes. Given persistent, strong PD-L1 expression he resumed pembrolizumab therapy and showed radiographic evidence of an ongoing response to therapy. Conclusions: This is the first report describing objective clinical and radiographic responses following immunotherapy for widely metastatic sebaceous carcinoma. The dramatic therapeutic response to pembrolizumab was associated with peripheral blood circulating memory T cells and mature Natural Killer cells after 6 months (24 weeks) of therapy. This report supports prospective clinical trials of anti-PD1 checkpoint blockade for metastatic sebaceous carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Anti-PD1
  • Immunotherapy
  • Pembrolizumab
  • Sebaceous carcinoma
  • Skin cancer5


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