The research activities of the Head and Neck Team of the Istituto Oncologico Veneto (Oncology 2 Unit) focus on the treatment of tumors arising from the upper aerodigestive tract involving the pharynx, larynx, oral cavity and sinonasal cavity but also on the treatment of salivary gland tumors and thyroid cancer.
Tumors arising in the head and neck region are quite heterogeneous. Approximately 90% of head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas arising from mucosal surfaces of the upper aerodigestive tract involving the pharynx, larynx, oral cavity and sinonasal cavity (HNSCC). Other neoplasms in the head and neck region include salivary gland tumors and mesenchymal lesions of the soft tissues and paranasal sinuses.
Main risk factors for HNSCC include a history of tobacco exposure, alcohol consumption, and exposure to certain high-risk types of human papilloma virus.
The treatment of these heterogeneous tumors differs according to the stage of disease, anatomical site, surgical accessibility, patient performance status and comorbidities. The evaluation by a multispecialty team is required for optimal decision making.
High volume centers with expertise in specialized multidisciplinary treatment of patients with head and neck cancers are associated with better outcomes and increased survival.
The Multidisciplinary team of the Istituto Oncologico Veneto include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, psychologist and dieticians as well as surgeons, pathologist, radiologist and speech/swallowing rehabilitation therapists of the Azienda Ospedaliera of the University of Padua. More than 150 new patients per year are evaluated by the multidisciplinary team and several national and international clinical trials are ongoing with main goal of defining new treatment strategies for Head and neck cancers.
The researchers of the group are active members of the Associations of Medical Oncology AIOM, ESMO, ASCO and of the Italian Head and Neck Oncologic Society (AIOCC).
The Head and Neck Team of the Istituto Oncologico Veneto is involved in several national and international research projects with the goal of improving the treatment strategies and identify new prognostic and predictive biomarkers for Head and Neck cancer patients as well as testing new anticancer drugs.
Immunotherapy against cancer is one of the most important achievement in last years. Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors anti PD-1 and anti PD-L1 (nivolumab, pembrolizumab, durvalumab, avelumab) and other immunotherapy drugs (anti-ICOS, monalizumab) represent a large field of research in our Center.
Combination treatment with immunotherapeutic drugs are under investigation both in locally advanced disease in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well immunotherapy combinations and immunotherapy plus chemotherapy or target agents are being studied as second or further line treatment for patients which has progressed after standard treatment.
Clinical trials with target therapies are also ongoing in thyroid cancer patients with RAI refractory differentiated thyroid cancer who have progressed after prior VEGFR-targeted therapy.