Head and Neck Cancer Meeting Summary and Research Opportunities
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the most common malignant neoplasm arising in the mucosa of the upper aerodigestive tract. Nearly two thirds of patients present with advanced (stage III and IV) disease. Fifty percent of HNSCC patients die of their disease, and 5% of HNSCC patients per year will develop additional second primary tumors. Currently used therapeutic modalities (surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy) have been associated with rather modest improvements in patient survival. The Head and Neck Cancer: Research and Therapeutic Opportunities Workshop (held in Washington, DC, May 24-26, 2004) was organized by the Division of Cancer Biology at the National Cancer Institute to identify research areas and directions that will advance understanding of HNSCC biology and accelerate clinical translation. The primary goal of the workshop was to identify the barriers that impede basic science discovery and the translation of these developments to the clinical setting. Over a 2.5-day period, experts in both HNSCC and other cancer-related fields met to identify and prioritize the key areas for future research. The overall consensus was that HNSCC is a relatively understudied malignancy and that investigations that focus on the biology of this tumor have the potential to impact significantly on the prevention and treatment of epithelial malignancies. The chief objective is to communicate these research goals to the cancer biology community and encourage more interest in HNSCC as a tumor model to test translational research hypotheses.