head and neck cancer research squamous cell carcinoma salivary gland

A/Prof Carsten Palme MBBS FRACS
A/Prof Jonathan Clark MBBS (hons 1) BSc (Med) MBiostat FRACS
A/Prof Michael Elliott MBBS MPhil FRACS
A/Prof Sydney Ch’ng MBBS FRACS PhD
Dr Anthony Clifford MBBS FRACS
Dr Kerwin Shannon MBBS FRACS
Dr Hubert Low MBBS BSc (Med, hons) FRACS

Publications 37
National/International Presentations 6
Grants 5
Students 20

A/Prof Sydney Ch’ng – Young Researcher Award, Sydney Local Health District, 2015

Research Highlights

The Lifehouse Head and Neck unit undertakes a broad range of research including disease outcomes (recurrence and survival) following surgery and radiotherapy, clinicopathological prognostic markers, patient reported outcomes (QoL), patient education and reconstructive techniques. The Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute (SHNCI) head and neck database brings together data from collaborators across Sydney and has been the cornerstone to facilitate these studies. In addition, collaborations with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital department of pathology, the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong, the University of NSW and University of Technology have facilitated a rapidly growing basic science and translational research program. The unit continues to undertake a variety of research projects and support individuals with particular interests, however there are four areas of focus:

  1. Advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC)
    The focus of this work is the identification of molecular prognostic markers to assist in identifying potentially lethal cSCC. The SHNCI continues to run a prospective sentinel node study for high risk cutaneous SCC and the interim results of this study (the largest of its kind) were published in 2015. Accrual now approaches 100 patients and these specimens have been used for several molecular studies looking for predictors of metastases in high risk cutaneous SCC.
  1. Aggressive salivary gland cancers (SGC)
    A review was undertaken into the pathology and clinical follow-up of aggressive salivary gland cancers treated at the SHNCI. This included analysis of two potential biomarkers, Mammary analogue salivary cancer (MASC) and MAML2 translocation in mucoepidermoid cancer and salivary duct cancer.
  1. Oral squamous cell cancer (OSCC)
    Several large multi-institutional studies were published by the ICOR group (international consortium oral cancer research) incorporating data from the SHCNI. The effect of p16 expression and human papilloma virus (HPV) status was explored in a collaborative study with A/Prof Iyer (NCI Singapore) examining differences in p16 expression between institutions including the effect of ethnic differences.
  1. Patient education – the Comprehensive Head and Neck Education and Support (CHANCES) program
    The CHANCES program is a web based resource to support patients with head and neck cancer and their carers. A body of research underpins the program to provide an evidence based approach to head and neck education resources. The first step is determining what are the deficiencies in head and neck education and how they can be addressed. Two multicenter studies have been initiated to determine both the clinician perspective and the patient perspective on education resources in head and neck cancer.
  1. Thyroid cancer
    A/Prof Michael Elliot leads the thyroid translational research program in conjunction with Dr Elizabeth Chua and A/Prof Sue Mclennan (USyd). This group is examining differential miRNA expression profiling in thyroid cancer and is also focussing on investigating miRNA expression in the serum to identify an alternative marker of recurrent/persistent disease.
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