Mutation profiling of circulating tumour DNA to inform prognosis and treatment selection for head and neck cancers

Dr Jenny Taylor
Dr Jenny Taylor

Project type:

Project Leader:

Dr Jenny Taylor

Commencement date:
December 2018

Length of project:
2 years

Funding provided:

Heads Up and Oracle Cancer Trust

University of Oxford

The problem

Currently, when patients with oropharyngeal cancer are treated with chemo-radiotherapy, 12 weeks after treatment they have a PET scan to check for the presence of any remaining cancer, called residual disease.

The scan shows how successful the patients response to treatment has been. If all clear, patients can enter surveillance. If there is still tumour remaining, further treatment such as neck dissection is required.

However, for a proportion of patients, there is some doubt around what the scan is showing. Is there cancer remaining or are they clear? In these cases, even though not all these patients will have residual disease, as a precaution all patients are offered further treatment which may or may not be necessary.

On the flip side, for a minority group, patients with scans that are thought to show no residual tumour, then return at 3 months with recurrence of the disease.

The research
The future
University of Oxford
University of Oxford