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Study identifies 5 risk factors for late-stage head and neck cancer
Date:10/28/2010

DETROIT Developing a molecular fingerprint for head and neck cancer tumors could help improve diagnosis and treatment for this deadly and often-times disfiguring form of cancer, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Their new study has taken the first step toward doing that by identifying five risk factors for late-stage head and neck cancer two genes, tumor grade, and vascular invasion and location of the tumor.

Race, however, was not an independent predictor for late-stage disease, contrary to other research findings. In fact, 88 percent of the African American patients in the study had some form of insurance.

"We were able to look at the many intertwined variables influencing health and disease to understand the contribution of tumor genetic alterations, pathologic, and patient factors in head and neck cancer diagnosis and outcomes," explains study lead author Maria J. Worsham, Ph.D., director of research in the Department of Otolaryngology at Henry Ford Hospital.

"We then used comprehensive modeling that accounted for the different variables, which no other study has done. By taking into account so many different factors, we were able to look at what rises to the top as a predictor for late-stage disease."

These initial findings, part of a five-year National Institutes of Health-funded study, will be presented by Dr. Worsham Oct. 28 during a panel discussion at the American Head and Neck Society 2010 Research Workshop in Arlington, VA. She also is chairing the session.

In 2009, there were an estimated 35,720 new cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and approximately 7,600 deaths.

Despite considerable efforts in medical diagnosis and treatment, the five-year survival rate for HNSCC has not significantly improved. In addition, African Americans tend to have later-stage cancer and poorer survival than Caucasians.

In an effort to learn mo
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Contact: Krista Hopson
khopson1@hfhs.org
313-874-7207
Henry Ford Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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