Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) discovered Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), a method of radiation involving exposure of the tumors to increased frequencies of radiation is said to be beneficial.

The method is used for treating and controlling cancers of the neck and head. Findings suggest that the treatment is effective when the integrated with chemotherapy Cetuximab. The collated data will be published at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in San Diego.

The team headed by Dwight E. Heron, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and vice chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, registered 24 people showing symptoms of intermittent cancers of the neck and head, who had received treatment of radiation. The 24 people were administered Cetuximab a week prior to the 14 days SBRT administration. The findings revealed that persons treated with a combination of SBRT and Cetuximab display possible signs of marked improvement in treatment.

Dr. Heron emphasized the importance of the study as this treatment is available to persons diagnosed with cancers of the neck and head where treatment is restricted or failing.

"While therapies for head and neck cancers have improved over the years, too many patients suffer relapses," said Dr. Heron. "When surgery and certain combinations of chemotherapy and radiation therapy are deemed either high risk or too toxic as treatment options, very specialized radiation therapy strategies are frequently considered.

Unfortunately, conventional radiation therapy, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy, often has debilitating side effects for this subset of patients, and we are often faced with the challenge of how to treat their cancers aggressively while limiting the risk of side effects."

Findings of the study showed that SRBT combined with Cetuximab has accelerated progress with regard to radiation and cut short on the treatment time.

"We think this combination also may improve local control and perhaps survival rates, as we have seen in our own retrospective series. Most importantly, this study contributes to the emerging data fueled by UPCI suggesting a role for SBRT in patients with recurrent head and neck cancers," said Dr. Heron.

Cancers of the neck and head have their source from the upper aero digestive tract affecting approximately forty five thousand Americans in a year. Experts in the field suggest that cancers of the neck and head have a direct link with lifestyle, the environment, intake of tobacco and effects of human papilloma virus resulting from sexual intercourse.