A TREATMENT for head and neck cancer being developed by top scientists at Glasgow University could improve survival rates.
The treatment would mean chemotherapy could be concentrated in the area around the tumour with lower doses for the organs vulnerable to toxicity.
If successful, the method would result in higher cure rates and fewer side-effects.
Surgery and radiotherapy are currently the main treatment options for HNC with chemotherapy not currently recommended as a sole treatment because of its toxicity and very low chance of cure.
Chemotherapy is usually combined with radiotherapy and administered through a drip – spreading the highly toxic drugs throughout the patient’s whole body.
Duncan Campbell, an oral andmaxillofacial surgeon at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, has been working with the Glasgow engineers to develop a way of using intra-arterial delivery.
He said the new method could potentially prove a huge benefit to treatment of HNC - one of the top ten cancer killers worldwide.
Campbell added: “Chemotherapy is ideally given at a high dose, but results in significant toxicity.
“The ideal dose for each patient is not known so best guess doses are used and toxicity monitored, but some patients cannot tolerate this preferred dose.
“HNC cancer surgeons in the NHS are interested in the delivery of chemotherapy by intra-arterial methods, particularly if we could map and control the dose gradients in different parts of the body.”
The group is not yet ready to propose clinical trials which they estimate to be at least a year from now.
Their new method uses a number of information sources, such as the location of injection, the pressure applied in injecting the fluid and the speed of blood flow and pulse rate to find the right way of injecting the drug so it will concentrate it at the desired location.
Cancer kills more than 150,000 people in the UK every year with major killer HNC linked to tobacco and alcohol consumption.