Head and neck cancers are often treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In addition to such gold standard drugs as cisplatinum and 5-fluorouracil, we offer newer, targeted therapies, which disrupt specific molecules that cancer cells need in order to grow. These include tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which shut down specific enzymes that have been linked to cancers of the head and neck.
About 90 percent of head and neck cancers are found to produce too much of a protein called the epidermal growth factor receptor (eGFR), which directs cancer cells to multiply. For patients whose disease has returned or metastasized (spread to other parts of the body), Roswell Park offers cetuximab (Erbitux®), a drug that can block the interaction between eGFR and the cancer cells.