Immunotherapy of Head and Neck Cancer: Current and Future ConsiderationsReport as inadecuate

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Journal of OncologyVolume 2009 2009, Article ID 346345, 11 pages

Review Article

Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Greek Anticancer Institute, Saint Savvas Hospital, 171 Alexandras Avenue, 115 22 Athens, Greece

Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, A. Alfred Taubman Health Care Center, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Received 17 February 2009; Accepted 15 June 2009

Academic Editor: Amanda Psyrri

Copyright © 2009 Alexander D. Rapidis and Gregory T. Wolf. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma HNSCC are at considerable risk for death, with 5-year relative survival rates of approximately 60%. The profound multifaceted deficiencies in cell-mediated immunity that persist in most patients after treatment may be related to the high rates of treatment failure and second primary malignancies. Radiotherapy and chemoradiotherapy commonly have severe acute and long-term side effects on immune responses. The development of immunotherapies reflects growing awareness that certain immune system deficiencies specific to HNSCC and some other cancers may contribute to the poor long-term outcomes. Systemic cell-mediated immunotherapy is intended to activate the entire immune system and mount a systemic and-or locoregional antitumor response. The delivery of cytokines, either by single cytokines, for example, interleukin-2, interleukin-12, interferon- , interferon- , or by a biologic mix of multiple cytokines, such as IRX-2, may result in tumor rejection and durable immune responses. Targeted immunotherapy makes use of monoclonal antibodies or vaccines. All immunotherapies for HNSCC except cetuximab remain investigational, but a number of agents whose efficacy and tolerability are promising have entered phase 2 or phase 3 development.

Author: Alexander D. Rapidis and Gregory T. Wolf



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