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Genetic Variations May Aid Certain Patients

Conquest - Fall 2011

Some Head and Neck Cancer Patients Could Benefit

Jeffrey Myers, M.D., Ph.D. (center), and 
Curtis Pickering, Ph.D., share the success 
of their study, conducted through a 
postdoctoral fellowship program directed 
by Khandan Keyomarsi, Ph.D. (left), 
professor in the Department of Experimental 
Radiation Oncology.
Photo: F. Carter Smith

The first comprehensive studies of genetic variations in head and neck squamous cell cancers have uncovered mutations that may help refine treatment for patients with the disease.

“These findings should help us better treat patients, in the not-too-distant future, by allowing us to take a more personalized approach than is currently possible with this cancer,” says Jeffrey Myers, M.D., Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery and co-author on one of the papers.

“We’ll see how patients whose tumors have these genetic mutations do with our conventional treatments of surgery-radiation, chemotherapy or chemoradiation. In this way, we can identify groups of patients who need additional or different treatments,” he says.

“Also, some of the newly identified mutations might prove to be potential targets for treatment with drugs that are already available.”

Reported in the July 28, 2011, edition of Science Express, an online feature of Science.

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