To test the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of subconjunctival ranibizumab (Lucentis [Genentech, Inc.]) for squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva and cornea.
Five patients with recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva and cornea enrolled in this nonrandomized, single center, phase I pilot study as an alternative to radiation or exenteration. Subconjunctival ranibizumab (0.5 mg) was given on a monthly or twice monthly basis. Patients were examined for safety, tolerability, and efficacy using visual acuity, blood pressure, urinalysis, comparative slit lamp biomicroscopy with photography, and high frequency ultrasound imaging.
Five male patients with biopsy-proven squamous conjunctival carcinoma were found to have recurrent disease. Each patient had been initially treated with combinations of primary excision (n = 1) or excision and cryotherapy (n = 4), and all (n = 5) had failed separate courses of both topical interferon α and mitomycin 0.02%. Tumors were multifocal and involved between 8 and 12 clock hours of the limbus. A median of 22 injections (range 12–27) was given over a mean 19 months (range 6–24). Three patients had a complete response (no clinically apparent disease) during the 2-year study, while 2 failed treatment despite demonstrating an initial partial response. Treatment was well-tolerated, as 4 patients demonstrated stable or improved visual acuity, and none had significant systemic or ocular side effects.
This 2-year study demonstrated that subconjunctival ranibizumab induced regression of squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva and cornea. Therefore, antivascular endothelial growth factor chemotherapy may offer a new strategy, complement excision and cryotherapy, or provide an alternative to radiation and/or exenteration. Further, larger investigations utilizing a larger group of patients are needed to determine the ideal dose, route of drug delivery, and case selection.