Trending Clinical Topics for June 2019

Ryan Syrek

Disclosures

June 28, 2019

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (June 15-21): Head and Neck Cancer

News about at-risk populations and information about emerging treatment options helped make head and neck cancer this week's top trending clinical topic. New data from a registry-based study found that the exponential rise in oropharynx cancer among young, white American men has tapered off. Instead, modest increases in incidence are now being seen among individuals born after 1955. Although the exact reasons for this are unclear, researchers postulate that changes in sexual behaviors may be a key component. This is because transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes a significant amount of oropharyngeal cancer, is associated with oral sex.

A new first-line therapy has been approved for patients who do develop head and neck cancers. The US Food and Drug Administration  approved pembrolizumab for first-line treatment in patients with metastatic or unresectable, recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Experts discussing results of the KEYNOTE-48 trial have recommended pembrolizumab as part of the new first-line standard of care for these patients. This represents a practice change, as immunotherapy for head and neck cancer was previously approved for second-line use only, after progression on chemotherapy. In terms of surgical treatment, a study in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer found that radiation therapy may result in better swallowing outcomes than surgery. The study is the first and only randomized trial to compare the two approaches in the first-line treatment for this cancer. From epidemiologic information to new treatment strategies, those who are vigilantly watching for new developments in head and neck cancer helped make it this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more about head and neck cancers.

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