Keeping Tabs


Anchor lead: Can
looking for a virus help spot recurrence of head and neck cancers? Elizabeth Tracey

Human papilloma virus or HPV is the cause of the majority of
head and neck cancers in the US, and renders the cancer much more amenable to
treatment. Carole Fakhry, a head and neck cancer surgeon and researcher at
Johns Hopkins, says now trials are underway to figure out if monitoring for the
virus may be an early indicator that the cancer is making a comeback.

Fakhry: After we’ve cured someone or they’ve been cured
elsewhere during the surveillance phase we are evaluating patients for whether
they have HPV in their blood or in an oral rinse, so it’s very analogous to PSA
and prostate cancer, so that we can understand the disease state of an
individual. And so we’re enrolling patients on a study like that to evaluate
whether or not they have HPV and hopefully detect early recurrence earlier with
the HPV, and along with that they get immunotherapy or a combination immunotherapy
and vaccine.   :30

Fakhry hopes HPV monitoring will give both patients and
clinicians an early warning that intervention is needed, and that therapeutic
vaccines will prove helpful. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.