Head and Neck Cancer Research

Current treatments for head and neck cancer present major drawbacks. Depending on the tumor’s location, surgery to remove it can be as disfiguring as the tumor itself. The chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat head and neck cancer has numerous toxic side effects.


Researchers and Patient Treatment

Dr. Shailender Bhatia

Our Head and Neck Cancer Researchers

Our interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat head and neck cancers as well as other cancers and diseases.

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Patient Treatment and Care

At Fred Hutch, our interdisciplinary teams work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our aim is to provide patients access to advanced treatment options while getting the best cancer care.

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Selected Head and Neck Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical research is an essential part of the scientific process that leads to new treatments and better care. Clinical trials can also be a way for patients to get early access to new cutting-edge therapies. Our clinical research teams are running clinical studies on various kinds of head and neck cancers.

Head and Neck Cancer Research

From molecular biology to targeted drug therapy, Fred Hutch research into head and neck cancers includes the entire bench-to-bedside spectrum. We are working to improve prevention and treatment and also reduce side effects from treatment.

Pinpointing the Factors Driving Cancer Development

Building on our deep experience in cancer biology, Fred Hutch scientists are investigating the interplay of genetic, viral, environmental and lifestyle factors in both the causes and progression of these cancers. In collaboration with international consortiums, our researchers are conducting population- and hospital-based studies to identify clear risk factors for these cancers and pinpoint tumor biomarkers. Fred Hutch science paved the way for the HPV vaccine. Through our Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center, we are continuing our groundbreaking investigations into how HPV and other viruses and pathogens trigger head and neck cancers.

Decoding Molecular Profiles

Fred Hutch researchers are pioneering new ways to both diagnose and decipher the genetic makeup of head and neck cancers. Through a painstaking process called functional genomics, we can screen hundreds or thousands of genes to pinpoint those that, when shut off, halt the growth of tumor cells. By pinpointing vulnerabilities in tumors, this work has already led to clinical trials of new approaches for patients and holds the potential to deliver on the promise of precision oncology. 

Developing Targeted Treatments

Our advances in molecular research have paved the way for our efforts to discover and validate novel drugs and treatment tools for patients with head and neck cancers. As we develop and test the next generation of targeted anticancer agents, we’re undertaking clinical trials to determine whether these drugs work better and are safer than current treatments.

Our scientists are also developing tools to determine a patient’s prognosis, which can help doctors choose the best treatment for that specific cancer.

Latest Head and Neck Cancer News

Cancer and the LGBTQ+ community From structural barriers and binary patient forms to gendered diseases, ‘queer cancer’ can be fraught with bias and bad assumptions August 3, 2023
Striving for the summit of Kilimanjaro How 20 biotech leaders — and two Fred Hutch faculty members — are tackling a mountain and cancer at the same time February 10, 2023
Hutch trial will test new app to help teens stop vaping Smoking cessation expert to adapt adult quit-smoking app for kids under 18; pilot trial will test its efficacy in 200 self-consenting teens May 17, 2022
Science Says: Renew, refocus, reduce risk Lowering risk of cancer through the science of prevention February 4, 2022