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Thursday, July 2, 2015
Head and Neck Cancer Protocols
#1. In seeking treatment for stage IV squamous cell cancer of the tongue and lymph nodes, how does one determine which method (i.e. surgery/radiation or IAI) offers the best chance of success given that each hospital generally promotes their own protocol?
#2. Is there financial assistance available to foreign cancer patients seeking treatment in the US?
#3. What protocol is offered at your hospital for the type of cancer above?
#4. Would doctors at your hospital agree to work in conjunction with a doctor in Ontario in an effort to help this patient defray some costs?
Your question has several parts, some of which can be addressed in this forum and some of which can not. Question 1. There are relatively few studies that report the results of therapy for advanced (Stage IV) squamous cell cancer of the tongue and lymph nodes. Surgery alone was reported in the 1960`s and 1970`s. Radiation and surgery has been the standard of care since the 1980`s with a 5-year survival of 35% for stage III and stage IV disease. Many treatment protocols exist in the United States and can be searched for by both cancer type/site and participating institution by accessing the National Cancer Institute`s Comprehensive Cancer Database, Clinical Trials section.
We don`t know what the best treatment for advanced SCC cancer is; that is why there are the protocols. It cannot be determined which one would offer the best chance of success for an individual patient. 2. There is no widespread financial assistance available to foreign cancer patients seeking treatment in the US. Each hospital has their own policy. Sometimes a research protocol will be funded in such a way to defray the costs of care for a patient eligible to participate in the protocol. 3 and 4. Netwellness is sponsored by several institutions. You may check the database discussed above to see if any of the Netwellness participating institutions have a suitable SCC protocol.
Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University