The occurrence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx (SCOOP) is rapidly increasing and is predicted to outnumber cervical cancer cases in the United States by 2020. In 2012, 52,000 adults were diagnosed with head and neck cancers, comprising 3% of all US cancers, with the majority being squamous cell carcinomas. SCOOP has demonstrated notable epidemiological and clinical behavior changes in the past two decades. Historically, the typical SCOOP patients were older white males with a strong tobacco use history. Studies show that recent SCOOP patients were relatively younger, were nonsmokers, and had better treatment response even with advanced-stage cancers. Treatment responses were not consistent with AJCC staging, which suggests a new phenotype for SCOOP classification. The current first-line treatment is either radiation or surgery, and non-inferiority trials are ongoing to study overall survival. The two treatment modalities may offer different patient quality-of-life outcomes, and the current clinical trials don’t accommodate this important factor outside of clinical trial settings. Our Tier I goal creates a patient advisory council of head and neck cancer survivors and caregivers in Michigan, then expands virtually through the Cancer Research Network to provide input about the patient experience after these treatments. The council will inform us of short- and long-term outcomes that are important to them. In the next phase (Tier II) we will engage the council in comparative effectiveness research proposing a pragmatic trial of treatment strategies (surgery versus radiation) in SCOOP patients. The trial will be patient-centered with primary quality-of-life outcomes.
VIDEO (below): Making Quality of Life a Treatment Factor
This Pipeline to Proposal award focuses on assessing patients’ quality of life while making treatment decisions.