Oncological research at the Jean-Uhrmacher-Institute

Approximately 600.000 new cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have been estimated to occur worldwide in 2011, ranking them in sixth position of all carcinomas 1-3. Risk factors for the development of HNSCC include environmental factors, excessive tobacco- and alcohol use, as well as human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Particularly oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are associated with HPV16 4. This group of virally induced carcinomas shows distinct clinicopathological and molecular characteristics that differ from alcohol- and tobacco induced carcinomas 4-6. Studies that have assessed the prevalence of HPV-induced OSCC report frequencies ranging from 20% to up to 90%  with solid indications that their incidence and is increasing 5,7-9. Apparently, these patients often present with an advanced stage of the disease, nevertheless, they await a better prognosis 10. It is our research goal to discover new diagnostic and pharmaceutical strategies supporting treatment options for HNSCC in general and especially in OSCC.



1.        Parkin, D. M., Bray, F., Ferlay, J. & Pisani, P. Global cancer statistics, 2002. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 55, 74–108 (2005).

2.        Global cancer statistics. 61, 69–90 (2011).

3.        Kamangar, F., Dores, G. M. & Anderson, W. F. Patterns of cancer incidence, mortality, and prevalence across five continents: defining priorities to reduce cancer disparities in different geographic regions of the world. Journal of Clinical Oncology 24, 2137–2150 (2006).

4.        Olthof, N. C. et al. Next-generation treatment strategies for human papillomavirus-related head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: where do we go? Rev. Med. Virol. (2011). doi:10.1002/rmv.714

5.        Hafkamp, H. C. et al. Marked differences in survival rate between smokers and nonsmokers with HPV 16-associated tonsillar carcinomas. Int J Cancer 122, 2656–2664 (2008).

6.        Klussmann, J. P. et al. Genetic signatures of HPV-related and unrelated oropharyngeal carcinoma and their prognostic implications. Clinical Cancer Research: An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 15, 1779–1786 (2009).

7.        Mellin, H. et al. Human papillomavirus type 16 is episomal and a high viral load may be correlated to better prognosis in tonsillar cancer. Int J Cancer 102, 152–158 (2002).

8.        Koskinen, W. J. et al. Prevalence and physical status of human papillomavirus in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Int J Cancer 107, 401–406 (2003).

9.        Begum, S., Cao, D., Gillison, M., Zahurak, M. & Westra, W. H. Tissue distribution of human papillomavirus 16 DNA integration in patients with tonsillar carcinoma. Clinical Cancer Research: An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 11, 5694–5699 (2005).

10.     Fakhry, C. et al. Improved survival of patients with human papillomavirus-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in a prospective clinical trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 100, 261–269 (2008).

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