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Concept: Head and neck cancer


Background Patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck after platinum chemotherapy have a very poor prognosis and limited therapeutic options. Nivolumab, an anti-programmed death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody, was assessed as treatment for this condition. Methods In this randomized, open-label, phase 3 trial, we assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, 361 patients with recurrent squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck whose disease had progressed within 6 months after platinum-based chemotherapy to receive nivolumab (at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight) every 2 weeks or standard, single-agent systemic therapy (methotrexate, docetaxel, or cetuximab). The primary end point was overall survival. Additional end points included progression-free survival, rate of objective response, safety, and patient-reported quality of life. Results The median overall survival was 7.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.5 to 9.1) in the nivolumab group versus 5.1 months (95% CI, 4.0 to 6.0) in the group that received standard therapy. Overall survival was significantly longer with nivolumab than with standard therapy (hazard ratio for death, 0.70; 97.73% CI, 0.51 to 0.96; P=0.01), and the estimates of the 1-year survival rate were approximately 19 percentage points higher with nivolumab than with standard therapy (36.0% vs. 16.6%). The median progression-free survival was 2.0 months (95% CI, 1.9 to 2.1) with nivolumab versus 2.3 months (95% CI, 1.9 to 3.1) with standard therapy (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.13; P=0.32). The rate of progression-free survival at 6 months was 19.7% with nivolumab versus 9.9% with standard therapy. The response rate was 13.3% in the nivolumab group versus 5.8% in the standard-therapy group. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 occurred in 13.1% of the patients in the nivolumab group versus 35.1% of those in the standard-therapy group. Physical, role, and social functioning was stable in the nivolumab group, whereas it was meaningfully worse in the standard-therapy group. Conclusions Among patients with platinum-refractory, recurrent squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, treatment with nivolumab resulted in longer overall survival than treatment with standard, single-agent therapy. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 141 number, NCT02105636 .).

Concepts: Head and neck anatomy, Cancer, Lung cancer, Chemotherapy, Normal distribution, Head and neck cancer, Paclitaxel, Bristol-Myers Squibb


BACKGROUND: Oropharyngeal cancers are increasingly associated with human papillomavirus (HPV). Little is known about the experience of patients receiving this diagnosis. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with ten survivors of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. The interviews were transcribed, and recurring themes were identified. RESULTS: Physicians were a trusted source of information regarding HPV. Framing the diagnosis in terms of prognosis resonated with patients. The uncertainty about transmission, latency, and communicability colored the dialogue about HPV. Despite some understanding of prevalence and transmission, patients worried about their partner’s risk. Patients sought information about HPV on the Internet, but it was not easily navigable. Emotional reactions to the diagnosis remained mostly cancer-centric rather than HPV-centric. A patient-education handout was developed in response to patient questions. CONCLUSIONS: Additional educational resources explaining the facts about HPV in HNSCC in a consistent way including content of highest priority to patients may improve understanding of HPV. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2012.

Concepts: Head and neck anatomy, Head and neck, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Lung cancer, Physician, Anal cancer, Head and neck cancer



Oral cancers are attributed to a number of causal agents including tobacco, alcohol, human papillomavirus (HPV), and areca (betel) nut. Although betel nut chewing has been established as an independent cause of oral cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis are poorly understood. An investigation was undertaken to evaluate the influence of betel nut chewing on the oral microbiome and oral premalignant lesions. Study participants were recruited from a dental clinic in Guam. Structured interviews and oral examinations were performed. Oral swabbing and saliva samples were evaluated by 454 pyrosequencing of the V3- V5 region of the 16S rRNA bacterial gene and genotyped for HPV. One hundred twenty-two adults were enrolled including 64 current betel nut chewers, 37 former chewers, and 21 with no history of betel nut use. Oral premalignant lesions, including leukoplakia and submucous fibrosis, were observed in 10 chewers. Within-sample bacterial diversity was significantly lower in long-term (≥10 years) chewers vs. never chewers and in current chewers with oral lesions vs. individuals without lesions. Between-sample bacterial diversity based on Unifrac distances significantly differed by chewing status and oral lesion status. Current chewers had significantly elevated levels of Streptococcus infantis and higher and lower levels of distinct taxa of the Actinomyces and Streptococcus genera. Long-term chewers had reduced levels of Parascardovia and Streptococcus. Chewers with oral lesions had significantly elevated levels of Oribacterium, Actinomyces, and Streptococcus, including Streptococcus anginosus. In multivariate analyses, controlling for smoking, oral HPV, S.anginosus, and S. infantis levels, current betel nut chewing remained the only predictor of oral premalignant lesions. Our study provides evidence that betel nut chewing alters the oral bacterial microbiome including that of chewers who develop oral premalignant lesions. Nonetheless, whether microbial changes are involved in betel nut-induced oral carcinogenesis is only speculative. Further research is needed to discern the clinical significance of an altered oral microbiome and the mechanisms of oral cancer development in betel nut chewers.

Concepts: Cancer, Bacteria, Human papillomavirus, Ribosomal RNA, Head and neck cancer, Dentistry, Areca nut, Betel


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now known to cause a significant proportion of head and neck cancers (HNC). Qualitative research has shown that some health professionals find it difficult to discuss HPV with patients due to its sexually transmitted nature, and have concerns about their own knowledge of the virus. We used a survey to quantify attitudes towards discussing HPV among HNC health professionals.

Concepts: AIDS, Scientific method, Epidemiology, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Oral sex, Human sexual behavior, Head and neck cancer


The voice impact of treatment for nonlaryngeal head and neck primary sites remains unknown.

Concepts: Head and neck anatomy, Head and neck, Head and neck cancer


Because of their role as antioxidants, the intake of carotenoids has been hypothesized to reduce the risk of head and neck cancer (HNC). We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the epidemiological studies to investigate whether the intake of specific carotenoids from dietary sources, as well as combined carotenoids, is associated with the risk of HNC according to cancer subsites. A comprehensive literature search of Medline and Scopus databases was conducted. Sixteen articles were identified from the literature search, of which 15 case-control studies and one prospective cohort study. The risk reduction associated with β-carotene equivalents intake was 46% (95% CI: 20-63%) for cancer of oral cavity and 57% (95% CI: 23-76%) for laryngeal cancer. Lycopene and β-cryptoxanthin also reduced the risk for laryngeal cancer; the ORs for the highest category compared to the lowest one of carotenoid intake were 50% (95% CI: 11-72%) and 59% (95% CI: 49-67%), respectively. Lycopene, α-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin were associated with at least 26% reduction in the rate of oral and pharyngeal cancer (95% CI: 2-44%). Our systematic-review and meta-analysis on dietary carotenoids intake and HNC showed carotenoids to act protectively against HNC, in relation to most of single-nutrients and subsites.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Epidemiology, Head and neck anatomy, Antioxidant, Carotenoid, Head and neck cancer, Study design, Lycopene


To study the role of surgery for symptom palliation in patients with advanced head and neck malignancy. Between 2000 and 2011, patients with locoregionally advanced cancer in the head and neck region, who chose surgical palliation for symptom control, were studied retrospectively. During the study period, 52 patients were included. The index tumour included carcinoma of the maxilla (23.1 %), tongue (19.2 %), larynx/hypopharynx (15.4 %), post-radiation sarcoma (11.5 %), primary sarcoma (11.5 %), carcinoma of the lower alveolus (11.5 %), nasal mucosal melanoma (3.9 %) and metastatic tumour in the head and neck region (3.9 %). The major symptoms included bleeding (53.9 %), tumour pain (19.2 %), dysphagia (11.5 %), non-healing ulcerations (7.7 %), airway obstruction (5.8 %) and pathological fracture of the mandible (1.9 %). Ligation of the carotid artery was performed in 10 patients, complete resection of tumour in 35, and surgical debulking of the tumour in 7 patients. Mean survival of the patients was 5.6 months. The majority of the patients achieved satisfactory and persistent control of symptoms. One patient died from pneumonia during the hospital stay, and the rest were discharged after a mean duration of 16.4 days. In selected patients, surgery is effective in palliating symptoms which are otherwise difficult to manage. Detailed planning and good communication is the key to success in improving the quality of dying.

Concepts: Cancer, Disease, Oncology, Hospital, Chemotherapy, Melanoma, Common carotid artery, Head and neck cancer


Cancer and its treatments are associated with psychological distress that can negatively impact self-perception, psychosocial functioning, and quality of life. Patients with head and neck cancers (HNC) are particularly susceptible to psychological distress. This study involved a cross-validation of the Measure of Body Apperception (MBA) for HNC patients.

Concepts: Scientific method, Head and neck anatomy, Head and neck, Cancer, Oncology, Life, Head and neck cancer, Cancer research


PURPOSE: The incidence of head and neck cancer (HNC) is increasing, and treatment advances have contributed to improvements in survival. However, a growing number of HNC survivors now live with the long-term consequences of cancer treatment, in particular, problems with eating. The combined effects of HNC cancer, intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery have a profound impact on functional, psychological, social and physical aspects of eating. Evidence is needed to underpin new rehabilitation approaches to address these complex problems. This review aimed to identify and summarise the evidence for rehabilitation interventions aimed at alleviating eating problems after HNC treatment. METHODS: A systematic review of studies indexed in Medline, CinAHL and PsycINFO using search terms relevant to a wide range of aspects of eating. Publications reporting empirical findings regarding physical, functional and/or psychosocial factors were included. RESULTS: Twenty-seven studies were identified. Fifteen focussed on swallowing exercises, eight on interventions to improve jaw mobility and four on swallowing and jaw exercises. None included interventions to address the complex combination of functional, physical and psychological problems associated with eating in this patient group. CONCLUSIONS: This review highlights that, whilst there is some evidence to support interventions aimed at improving swallowing and jaw mobility following treatment for HNC, studies are limited by their size and scope. Larger, high quality studies, which include patient-reported outcome measures, are required to underpin the development of patient-centred rehabilitation programmes. There is also a particular need to develop and evaluate interventions, which address the psychological and/or social aspects of eating.

Concepts: Better, Head and neck anatomy, Head and neck, Improve, Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Head and neck cancer, Problem solving