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Head and Neck Cancer

Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy, a common procedure to determine whether melanoma has spread, can be utilized safely and effectively even with tumors in the head and neck area according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

SLN biopsy is routinely offered to patients with melanoma meeting or exceeding a certain size. However, many surgeons believed the intricate anatomy combined with the crucial nerves and blood vessels in the head and neck area created an unsafe and inaccurate setting for an SLN biopsy of that region.

Concomitant chemotherapy with reirradiation offers a cure for select patients with recurrent head and neck cancer in a previously irradiated area. With the findings of 2-year survival in 25% of patients, the researchers noted the importance of choosing the correct patients for this therapy. Previous concurrent chemoradiotherapy was associated with poor survival outcomes. In addition, there was significant risk of sever toxicity, with 20% of patients experiencing treatment-related death.


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