5,000 patients join biggest study into head and neck cancers
The largest investigation of head and neck cancers has been launched following the successful recruitment of a study group of 5,000 patients.
The research project is the biggest population study ever undertaken to investigate the factors that are contributing towards recent improvements in the outcomes for patients with cancers such as pharynx, larynx, thyroid and salivary glands.
Head and Neck 5000 has brought together leading experts in the field across the country who will also explore the psychological impact that living with head and neck cancer can have on people.
Around 7,000 adults are diagnosed each year with head and neck cancers, which do not include brain tumours. Advances in radiotherapy and chemotherapy techniques mean their chances of survival have improved in recent years.
The study will look at whether better treatment, changes in lifestyle or better care are the most important factors in helping patients to recover.
The work, involving all the major cancer centres in the UK, will also involve collecting blood, saliva and other samples to provide a vital DNA resource for future research.
The study is being led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle at the University Hospitals, Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.
He said: “This is a very important research project which hopefully will help us to understand how we can improve outcomes for patients with head and neck cancers.
“It has taken considerable time to build a national clinical consensus about the need for the study and in designing the protocol for the fieldwork which will be carried out by research staff at more than 50 hospitals and cancer centres across the UK.”
Participating patients will be given questionnaires about their social and economic circumstances, overall health and lifestyle, behaviours such as smoking and alcohol consumption along with questions about their psychological health, well-being and quality of life.