Modifying Treatment

February 27, 2020

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Anchor lead: Can less
be more when it comes to treating head and neck cancers? Elizabeth Tracey
reports

Aggressive treatment for cancers of the head and neck can
save lives, and it also produces a host of consequences people must live with. Now
that the majority of these cancers are related to infection with a virus and
are much more treatable, can shorter and less aggressive treatment still work?
Tanguy Seiwart, a head and neck cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, describes the
approach.

Siewart: With these older approaches which were developed
largely for tobacco-associated tumors, we cure 90+ percent of these
HPV-positive tumors and the big question is maybe we’re overtreating these
patients by giving too much therapy and these patients have decades of life
ahead of them, maybe we can actually go down on the intensity of the treatment,
still get very good cure rates, and at the same time decrease toxicity. So this
is an approach that is generally called de-escalation or deintensification and
we hope will dramatically improve functional outcomes and long term
toxicity.  :32

Seiwart notes that people are carefully monitored so more
aggressive measures can be used if needed. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth
Tracey.

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