Because we are an academic medical center, leading-edge research is one of the cornerstones of the care provided by our experts in head, neck and skull base cancers. Today’s clinical trials and research studies give us new, proven treatment approaches offering patients more treatment options and hope.
Program physicians at Froedtert participate in numerous head and neck cancer clinical trials. These experts well understand how these trials help offer patients every treatment option available. Clinical trials can take place in several ways.
Some clinical research trials are initiated and conducted onsite by our own Medical College of Wisconsin physicians. Our research center is one of 78 centers in the United States supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin frequently participates in trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, offering another way for patients to have access to new drug therapies.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has created several small consortiums across the country to help get new drugs and treatments developed and tested more quickly. Promising new drugs go through Phase I trials, the earliest form of clinical trials. In the Phase II network, they’re tested specifically for activity in specific cancers.
Our Head and Neck Cancer team participates in many multi-institutional and national clinical trials that are coordinated by various national cooperative groups, including the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG). ECOG is one of the country’s largest clinical cancer research organizations. RTOG has a strong focus on head and neck cancer research, and several of our physicians have led clinical trials and served in leadership positions for the organization.
Head and Neck Cancer Clinical Trials - Video FAQ
Stuart Wong, MD, medical oncologist, talks about the types of clinical trials offered by the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network.
We offer several types of clinical trials. In fact, our portfolio for clinical trials is very broad. We offer clinical trials basically for every stage of disease — including before surgery, during surgery and after surgery. We also offer clinical trials for advanced cancers where the cancer returns or spreads elsewhere in the body. This broad portfolio of clinical trials offers all of our patients the possibility of new and experimental and cutting-edge therapies.
Stuart Wong, MD, medical oncologist, explains the importance of participating in cancer clinical trials.
Participation in clinical trials is very important. We have patients coming to us demanding that clinical trials be part of their care. That is because now there is a public understanding that this is the best care that can be provided for patients, so we try to offer clinical trials for every patient.
The best treatment is standard of care, but sometimes the best treatment is a therapy that may push the envelope further and give patients a better outcome and, hopefully, is something that we can offer to every single person that walks through the door. Ultimately, their choice may be to not go on a clinical trial, but at least it's an option for them. Participation in the clinical trial is also important because it offers the patient new therapy that may not be offered anywhere else.
Sometimes patients are in situations where they have exhausted all of the standard types of care, and experimental treatment is something that gives them new hope that they would not have otherwise. There is data that that indicates that the best patient outcome occurs in high-volume centers such as ours.
High-volume centers frequently provide experimental therapy or clinical trials for patients. Those go hand in hand, so we are committed to provide this access to patients so that they have the most choices including clinical trials. Clinical trials also are highly regulated, so we have to follow a very specific script in order to treat patients just so. This is not to say that you wouldn't get good care outside of a clinical trial, but it is taken up several notches so that we can ensure the patients the safest possible quality of care when they receive treatment on a clinical trial.
Stuart Wong, MD, medical oncologist, talks about radiation therapy clinical trials.
We have a number of radiation therapy clinical trials that use a new technique to deliver radiation in a shorter amount of time with larger doses of radiation. This has been a technology that has been used in a number of different types of cancers, but not yet pioneered in head and neck cancer. And so we offer a number of clinical trials that use this new technology.
Research Leads to More Effective Care
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin physicians are among the research pioneers who continue to shape current best practices in head, neck and skull base cancer treatment. For instance, our physicians were involved in a 1990s study that led to successfully treating laryngeal cancer without removing a patient’s voice box – a treatment approach that has since improved the quality of care for countless patients across the globe.
Today, our medical oncologists are researching new drugs for patients with recurring thyroid cancer and authoring studies challenging the idea that radiation therapy can be given only once in a patient’s lifetime. The results could lead to breakthroughs in effective treatment for patients with recurrent cancer.
NCI Grant to Study Plant-Based Preventative Treatment for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is the sixth most frequent cancer in the world. In the United States, approximately 36,500 new cases are diagnosed and 8,000 patients die each year from this disease. Our team of physician scientists and researchers is known for their skill and innovation in the detection and treatment of head and neck cancers, and we are thrilled to announce an exciting new project studying the treatment and prevention of oral cancer.
MCW Cancer Center director Ming You, MD, PhD and Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin oncologist Stuart Wong, MD received a $2.6M grant from the National Cancer Institute to study a widely used Chinese herbal formula called Antitumor B as potent cancer preventive agent for oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). Antitumor B (ATB) is one of the most promising preventative agents for head and neck cancer.
Quality of Life Initiatives
More and more people are surviving head, neck and skull base cancers each year. That’s why it is important to conduct research that not only impacts survival but also enhances quality of life after treatment. Our own research with cancer survivors helps us understand long-term side-effects or “late effects” of treatment. Some of these effects include tightening of scars, persistent loss of movement or sensation, thinning of muscle and lining tissues, persistent mouth dryness and others.
Research has shown that even the most challenging side effects can be relieved. Advancements in tissue-preservation during treatment, speech and physical therapy, new drug options and other options are helping patients enjoy a better quality of life after treatment.
Virtual Visits Are Available
Safe and convenient virtual visits by video let you get the care you need via a mobile device, tablet or computer wherever you are. We’ll gather your medical records for you and get our experts’ input so we can offer treatment options without an in-person visit. To schedule a virtual visit, call 1-866-680-0505.
Recognized as High Performing by U.S. News & World Report
Froedtert Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in three adult specialties and 16 procedures and conditions, including cancer.