Current status of experimental therapeutics for head and neck cancer

Juna Lee, Chulso Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As with many cancers, early detection of head and neck cancer increases a patient's survival rate. If diagnosed early, its five-year survival nears 90% with standard therapy alone. Unfortunately, the average survival rate for head and neck cancer is low due to the difficulty in early detection and achieving a sustainable response. Conventional treatments are not adequate for the majority of advanced or recurrent head and neck cancer patients because of the remarkable resistance of tumors to chemotherapy and radiation, and the situation is especially devastating for the first time treatment failure. The major limitations of these treatments are the lack of specificity for the tumor cell and unacceptable toxicity to the patient. As a result, current research in therapeutics for advanced, chemotherapy-resistant or recurrent head and neck cancer patients has focused on new treatment modalities that exploit biological differences between tumor and normal cells. These therapies include monoclonal antibodies, molecular inhibitors, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy. This article reviews the current preclinical and clinical evidence of these experimental therapeutics as they relate to head and neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-389
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Gene therapy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Molecular inhibitors
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Photodynamic therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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