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Georgetown Lombardi Researchers Present New Findings On Head & Neck Cancers

January 26, 2012

Research physicians from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center will present new data about a complex group of cancers known as head and neck cancers at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium, January 26 through 28, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Should patients with HPV+ head and neck cancers receive less chemotherapy?

Georgetown researchers are examining a hypothesis about whether HPV+ patients with a head and neck cancer should receive more or less chemotherapy.

“Given the rising number of patients with HPV-caused head and neck cancers, we need to find the right way to treat and cure, this disease,” explains John Deeken, M.D., director of head and neck medical oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. “Some argue that we should decrease the intensity of treatment given how well HPV-positive cancers respond to treatment. Our research suggests the opposite — that intensifying therapy in high-risk HPV-positive patients might well increase the cure rate of this disease. Clearly additional clinical studies are warranted to further test our findings.”

Examining a rare sequel of head and neck cancer — axillary node metastasis

In a separate study, researchers are studying an unusual occurance linked to head and neck tumors involving metastasis in the axillary nodes.

“It is postulated that this can be secondary to tumor blockage at the jugulo-subclavian junction and/or fibrosis of the cervical lymphatics following surgery or radiation therapy resulting in retrograde lymphatic flow,” says Richard H. Comstock III, M.D, a 4th-year resident in the department of otolaryngology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “Upon reviewing the patients in our series we found that they all had manipulation of their neck lymphatics with either surgery or radiation which we believe played a role in the development of axillary metastasis. In addition we present the only known case of axillary metastasis from a squamous cell skin malignancy.”

Comstock adds, “Clinicians should be aware of this potential complication of head and neck cancer an screen high risk patients accordingly.”

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