Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Cancer of the head and neck - analysis of biological characteristics and an attempt to improve treatment results

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.04.00  Medical sciences  Oncology   

Code Science Field
B200  Biomedical sciences  Cytology, oncology, cancerology 
cancer of the head and neck, molecular markers, image-cytometric analysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, treatment related side effects, survival
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (10)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  16048  PhD Igor Fajdiga  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  113 
2.  10946  PhD Irena Hočevar Boltežar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  499 
3.  17474  Vojislav Ikič    Technician  2005 - 2008 
4.  17475  Igor Kjunder    Technician  2005 - 2008 
5.  09762  PhD Hotimir Lešničar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  125 
6.  14576  PhD Primož Strojan  Medical sciences  Principal Researcher  2004 - 2008  789 
7.  02130  PhD Alojz Šmid  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  214 
8.  02132  PhD Miha Žargi  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  392 
9.  20478  Tatjana Železnik    Technician  2005 - 2008 
10.  02133  PhD Avgust Župevc  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  78 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0302  Institute of Oncology Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5055733000  14,547 
2.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  73,816 
Background: Cancer of the head and neck is a heterogeneous disease; therefore, a never-ending search for the factors predicting the aggressiveness of the disease in each individual patient is imperative as well as self-evident. The same holds for the evaluation of the efficiency of new treatment regimes or new treatment combinations because of poor treatment results in the patients with unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck or in the patients who are not eligible for surgery or decline surgical treatment. Research Objectives: In the first, preclinical phase, the authors will focus the researches on primary tumor tissues and regional metastases of the patients included in the clinical phase of the study: In these tissues, (1) the expression of certain tumor markers will be determined by immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry, (2) DNA content, structural characteristics and organization of nuclear chromatin will be established by image cytometry. The objectives of this analysis are to identify those biological characteristics of a tumor that are vital for assessing the tumor aggressiveness, and thereby also for predicting the effectiveness of the treatment regime under study. In the second, clinical phase of the research, the authors will evaluate the toxicity and efficiency of concomitant chemoradiotherapy by applying (1) mitomycin C and cisplatin in the treatment of the patients with unresectable tumors (phase II study), or (2) cisplatin and concurrent inhalation of carbogen in the treatment of patients with resectable tumors who refuse to be surgically treated or are physically not fit to undergo surgery that may require radical removal of the larynx (phase I-II study). By Doppler ultrasound examination of the neck vessels in the patients in the studied group, we will select those in whom an aggressive cancer therapy may increase the risk of cerebrovascular insult and indicate them a prophylactic therapy.
Significance for science
Research activities planned in frame of the programme: 1. contributed to better understanding of biology of cancer of the head and neck which is one of the key factors when designing new and more effective approaches to treat this particular disease; 2. additionally widened the knowledge on therapeutic options in squamous cell carcinoma and selected rare tumors of the head and neck. The results of the clinical part of the programme influenced the treatment guidelines for this particular disease in Slovenia; 3. widened the knowledge on frequency, intensity and dynamic of acute and late side effects of aggressive oncological treatment and created a basis for consideration to introduce appropriate supportive and prophylactic therapy and to assess the feasibility of the studied therapy. By all means, the results (all sections, 1-3) are interesting also for international professional society which is supported by already published works.
Significance for the country
Precondition for more individualized approach to patients is as detailed description of biological characteristics of the tumor in an individual patient as possible. Namely, it is of paramount importance to treat intensively enough patients with more aggressive forms of the disease (to avoid disease recurrences), while the others less intensively (to save them from excessive toxicity). Evaluation of conducted radio(chemo)therapy protocols represents an additional step towards a more individualized treatment of patients and an additional therapeutic program that is offered to a group of patients with distinctively poor prognosis . A detailed analysis of prospectively recorded treatment-related side effects in proposed protocols creates a basis for the preparation of guidelines to introduce prophylactic and supportive therapy and for consideration to introduce other (less toxic but comparably effective) treatment approaches. The extension and renewal of therapeutic program with much more intensive and complex approaches results in greater competitive ability of local oncology society (in relation to those abroad) and is linked to a demand for increasing the number of medical doctors and nursing staff (due to more demanding diagnostics, treatment and control of treatment-related side effects), to upgrade their educational profile, to technological restructuring of activities (diagnostics and radiotherapy in particular) and introduction of new technologies (MRI, CT, 3D-radiotherapy). With public awareness (internet, civil patients’ societies), the attitude and consciousness of civil society about the danger of this particular type of cancer and difficulties in its treatment are obivously changing, which brings about the changes in and (further) development of some of social activities (e.g. volunteers, social work centers). Through pedagogical activity of the member of the programme group at undergraduate and particularly at postgraduate and specialistic levels, the knowledge of current and future professionals about the disease itself and potential treatment options is improving. Final result of all these efforts is more cured patients and better quality of their life. Every new finding of local researchers, from the field of tumor biology or clinically oriented topics of the programme, confirmed also abroad, is strengthening self-confidence of the authors and contributes to consolidation of national identity.
Most important scientific results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
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