Head and neck cancers are unusual, comprising roughly 6 to 7 percent of all cancers, and they are difficult to treat successfully, with a four-year survival rate following surgery and radiation of only 38 percent (excluding laryngeal cancers). That figure goes up slightly when chemotherapy is added, but overall survival rates have not changed significantly over the past 60 years.
Treating cancer can be a delicate balancing act, with physicians often juggling the timing and intensity of a variety of treatments, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy over many months. Ironically, in some cases, less can be more. For example, physicians often counsel patients with prostate cancer to watch and wait, essentially to do nothing until the cancer presents itself more aggressively.
Not so with head and neck cancer.
We want to go after it as decisively and as quickly as possible, says Dr. David E. Schuller, director of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, and thats what intensification therapy allows us to do.
Schuller, who is also deputy director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC), says the therapy was developed by an interdisciplinary team of clinician-scientists at The James, tracing its roots to work in the early 90s with Drs. John Grecula, Reinhard Gahbauer, Christopher Rhoades and others in the OSUCCC. Over the past decade, the research team has fine-tuned the approach with three clinical trials to try to maximize the resources to fight the cancer and minimize patient non-compliance.
The most recent version of the regimen began in 1999 and involves 43 patients with advanced head and nec
Contact: Michelle Gailiun
Ohio State University Medical Center