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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



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


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


Cross sectional imaging fills a crucial role in the work up of squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. The radiologist can suggest important considerations in treatment planning and disease prognosis. Key areas of anatomy in radiologic staging are reviewed.

Concepts: Head and neck anatomy, Cancer, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Radiology, Squamous cell carcinoma, Squamous epithelium, Head and neck cancer


Adaptive radiation therapy (ART) aims at compensating for anatomic and pathological changes to improve delivery along a treatment fraction sequence. Current ART protocols require time-consuming manual updating of all volumes of interest on the images acquired during treatment. Deformable image registration (DIR) and contour propagation stand as a state of the ART method to automate the process, but the lack of DIR quality control methods hinder an introduction into clinical practice. We investigated the scale invariant feature transform (SIFT) method as a quantitative automated tool (1) for DIR evaluation and (2) for re-planning decision-making in the framework of ART treatments. As a preliminary test, SIFT invariance properties at shape-preserving and deformable transformations were studied on a computational phantom, granting residual matching errors below the voxel dimension. Then a clinical dataset composed of 19 head and neck ART patients was used to quantify the performance in ART treatments. For the goal (1) results demonstrated SIFT potential as an operator-independent DIR quality assessment metric. We measured DIR group systematic residual errors up to 0.66 mm against 1.35 mm provided by rigid registration. The group systematic errors of both bony and all other structures were also analyzed, attesting the presence of anatomical deformations. The correct automated identification of 18 patients who might benefit from ART out of the total 22 cases using SIFT demonstrated its capabilities toward goal (2) achievement.

Concepts: Medicine, Evaluation, Measurement, Quality control, Management, Head and neck cancer, Observational error, Scale-invariant feature transform


To evaluate the effect of larynx and esophageal inlet sparing on dysphagia recovery after intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for stage III-IV oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

Concepts: Cancer, Radiation therapy, Feeding tube, Squamous cell carcinoma, Squamous epithelium, Caesium, Head and neck cancer, Barrett's esophagus


Patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) have limited treatment options. Inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) represents a novel therapeutic approach warranting additional investigation in solid tumors.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Cancer, Oncology, Histone, Histone deacetylase, Squamous cell carcinoma, Head and neck cancer, Histone deacetylase inhibitor