Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the NYU College of Dentistry, and Donna Albertson, PhD, professor at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, have identified candidate genomic markers in tumors that predict if an oral cancer is likely to metastasize to the neck.
The work of Drs. Schmidt and Albertson will validate genomic markers that will ultimately be used to rule out neck dissection in oral cancer patients with no clinical evidence of neck metastasis and who have tumors containing specific genomic profiles.
Current clinical and radiographic examination provides limited information for diagnosis of early neck metastasis of oral cancer, the researchers noted. Nearly all cancers within the oral cavity must be surgically removed. Neck dissection is also performed to remove lymphatic tissue in the neck if there is any clinical or radiographic evidence of neck metastasis.
In addition, patients who present with no evidence of metastasis in the neck often undergo a preemptive neck surgery because untreated occult metastasis reduces life expectancy by half. This surgery entails a three- to four-hour major procedure involving critical anatomic structures and is associated with life-altering morbidity, including stroke.
Dr. Schmidt will conduct the clinical portion of the study through the NYU Bluestone Center for Clinical Research; he and his team will recruit subjects, enroll patients, and collect the specimens. The samples will then be sent to Dr. Albertson's group, which will process and analyze the samples.
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