Cancerous tumors named head and neck tumors are a group of cancers that start in the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, sinuses, or salivary glands, and are often caused by the use of alcohol or tabacco. Also human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr virus infections play a role in these cancer types.
Signs and symptoms of the disease are wide and may include a lymph node swelling, sore throat or hoarse sounding voice, as well as bleedings from the mouth, sore mouth or bad breath.
These tumors are classified by its histological appearance, and cell structure, and are referred to by their location in the oral cavity and neck. Many of the tumors are found to be of squamous cell type, or of adenocarcinoma nature.
A surgical intervention is often used in early stage diagnosis, in combination with a chemotherapy and/or a radiotherapy. Head and neck tumors are type of cancers that are already treated with immunotherapeutic approaches (monoclonal antibodies), and most recently the treatment with checkpoint-antibody pembrolizumab as a first-line treatment of metastatic or unresectable recurrent squamous cell head and neck tumors has been approved. Head and neck tumors are considered as highly immunogenic tumors. Unfortunately, patients whose tumor has been tested positive for PD-1 and do not respond directly to the checkpoint-antibody approach, are often denied further cycles. Our experience has shown that an intensification of the protocol by using additionally an approach with an anti-CTLA-4 antibody, or a chemotherapeutic regimen can improve the response to treatments massively, in a patient-individualized setting.
Therefore, a synergising concept is determined, that consists of the combination of an immune priming approach, immune activation approach, and a chemotherapy that works in synergy with the immunotherapeutic approaches. Within a synergising concept, one needs to consider all aspects of the patient’s medical history, other diagnosis, and general well-being, as well as the available diagnostic constellations and ongoing treatments. Within a synergising concept, one is highly considering a precision-based combination of therapies that are evaluated for each individual case.
In case of a suspicion of a head and neck tumor, usually, and following a comprehensive physical examination, a PET-CT/MRI-Scan is performed, which helps to see whether and where tumor masses are located. It shows us whether the cancer has already spread to other tissues (metastasis). If a mass has been confirmed, it should be biopsied in order to determine the dignity of the tumor. A histopathological analysis can determine the exact (cell) type of the tumor. There are different types of tumors known, and each of them presents unique genetic characteristics.
What most patients do not know is, that when the first examination on the biopsy has been performed (to determine the tumor type), the tissue is kept and stored at the histopathology department of the hospital, where the biopsy has been performed. This stored tissue material can be used for thorough (genetic) tissue analyses and in-depth sequencing. It is known that tumors show the accumulation of several genetic modifications, thus providing cancer cells with the selective growth advantage to initiate expansion. Now, sophisticated high-throughput technologies enable the identification of these mutated genes in cancers that can lead to a potent targeted therapy.
It is crucial to perform a thorough broad-spectrum screening so that every patient has a chance to explore all possibilities of a targeted treatment, may it be in a private setting or a clinical trial elsewhere. So it is most important to first find a laboratory that looks for all markers and mutations, and second, to find an oncologist who is willing to work with you in the best (and targeted) way possible.
Step 1 : Contact us
Important: Our oncological team is happy to talk to you by phone to get a deeper understanding about your specific case, enabling to provide you with a provisional treatment plan and cost estimate. Our oncologists will provide you all the details on medications, therapeutics and treatments including underlying mechanism and side effects. After a physical examination and an in-depth discussion with you on-site, the definite treatment plan will be discussed. Please understand that complex medical processes as mentioned above can only be explained through a thorough consultation on-site.