Division of Hematology and Oncology

Our researchers conduct clinical studies to find new ways to diagnose and treat patients with all types of head and neck cancers.

The Medical Oncology Head and Neck Research Program provides compassionate multidisciplinary care that is informed by research into the most effective therapies for head and neck cancer. Penn physicians conduct clinical research and other investigations to improve the ability to diagnose and treat patients with all types of head and neck malignancies. It is through such research that clinicians improve current treatment and develop future cancer treatments and care.

Penn physicians conduct a variety of ongoing clinical research studies in head and neck cancer, usually in close collaboration with other departments including Radiation Oncology, Otorhinolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery and the Penn Center for Head and Neck Cancer.

These studies include:

  • Assessment of new therapies for all stages of disease, including studies combining surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. 
  • Assessment of new experimental agents for the treatment of patients with very advanced head and neck cancer, including phase 1 clinical trials. 
  • Quality-of-life studies. 
  • Analysis of tissue, blood, and tumor samples to better understand the biology of head and neck cancer and relationship to patient outcomes.

Medical oncologists involved in the management of head and neck cancer include:

Thyroid Cancer Research Program

Penn clinicians and researchers are leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer, and have published groundbreaking research in the development of molecularly targeted therapies such as sorafenib for the treatment of advanced thyroid cancer.

Penn researchers found patients with thyroid cancer that is resistant to radioactive iodine therapy were found to respond well to sorafenib. The phase II clinical trial data highlight an intensive effort at the Abramson Cancer Center to develop effective, personalized therapies for these patients, who have previously had few options for treatment. The program’s intensive lab-based efforts also developed an understanding of the molecular basis of the responses, so that future therapies can be tailored to every patient. The next phase of trials building on these findings is now under way.

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