Head and neck cancer procedures:

Head and neck cancer includes
cancers of the mouth, nose, sinuses,
salivary glands, throat and lymph
nodes in the neck. Most begin in the
moist tissues that line the mouth, nose
and throat.



PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY FOR
HEAD AND NECK CANCER
In Phase 1 trial Doctors at University
College Hospital in London have
tested the latest form of photodynamic
therapy on 11 patients with advanced
head and neck cancers, all of whose
tumors have shrunk or died away.
During photodynamic therapy a drug is
injected into the patient’s bloodstream
that makes the cancer cells extremely
sensitive to light. Those involved in the
trial were injected with a new drug —
known as Amphinex, a photosensitising
agent — three to four days before
being given standard chemotherapy.
Because tumors have high metabolic
activity and are surrounded by a
proliferation of new blood vessels, the
drug accumulates in cancer cells in
preference to healthy tissue. When a
low-powered red laser is shone on the
tumor, directly or through the skin, the
light triggers a chemical reaction that
disrupts the harmful cells and boosts
the action of a chemotherapy drug,
bleomycin.
The results are quite impressive. You
can see the tumor turn black and die,
not quite before your eyes, but over a
matter of days.