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Head and Neck Oncology Program (HNOP)

HNOP offers multi-disciplinary, collaborative and integrated evaluation and care for patients with head and neck cancers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Clinical Trials

The Stanford Cancer Center Head and Neck Oncology Program (HNOP) participates in both national and Stanford-originated clinical trials as well as translational and basic research.

HNOP is a pioneer of major scientific breakthroughs that helps patients through:

  • Organ preservation approaches to head and neck cancer.
  • New drugs for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and extending uses of existing drugs to HNSCC and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).
  • Advanced radiation therapy techniques that limit toxicity and improve outcomes.
  • Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery
  • Stem cell work that extends the findings of the first paper, demonstrating the existence of “cancer stem cells” in HNSCC by researchers from Stanford and Michigan in 2007; and a 2009 Stanford study establishing that stem cell properties of patients’ malignancies correlate with prognosis. This work led to subsequent stem cell papers in 2011 and 2012.
  • Normal tissue stem cell studies to identify salivary gland stem cells and to manipulate them for preservation and/or restoration of salivary gland function from radiation damage.
  • HNOP’s breadth of research studies and protocols including treatment of intermediate and advanced disease as well as hypoxia imaging.

Renowned Faculty Researchers, Innovative Care

HNOP Innovations

  • Creation of the first head and neck multidisciplinary tumor patient conference (tumor board; 1976) in the U.S.
  • Introduction of the first use of chemotherapy with irradiation for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which is the basis of organ-preservation chemoradiation in the U.S.
  • Close working relationships with:
    • Neurosurgery, Interventional Radiology, and Neuroradiology,which are critical for complex open and endonasal endoscopic skull base surgery.
    • Endocrinology in the treatment of thyroid cancer.
    • Dermatology in the treatment of advanced skin cancers.
  • Innovative research by physicians now at Stanford that demonstrates the utility of the FDA-approved Mobetron for intraoperative radiation therapy.
  • Contributing research in a Phase II trial of immunotherapy in intermediate and advanced surgically-treated HNSCC. A Phase III trial is now planned.
  • Leadership in the head and neck disease site committee of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group to develop new nation-wide clinical trials in head and neck cancer.
  • Biomarker studies to identify novel circulating biomarkers for prognostication and post-treatment surveillance in head and neck cancer.
  • Strong links to developmental therapeutics such as the advancement of new drugs to treat cancer.
  • Provision of a full range of treatment options that include minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery such as CyberKnife, microvascular reconstruction, intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), and new chemotherapy trials.