According to researchers from Northwestern Medical School, an injectable gel may be useful in treating cancers of the head and neck. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma affects about 20,000 Americans each year. Given intravenously, the drug cisplatin has been shown to be an effective therapy for head and neck cancers, but because it affects the entire body when given through an IV, it can lead to serious side effects. Researchers studied 120 patients who were previously treated for their cancer.
Nearly 80 percent of the patients had been treated with more than one therapy including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some patients received a new treatment that combines cisplatin and epinephrine in a gel, which is injected directly into the tumor. Other patients received injections of a placebo gel. Tumors were injected up to six times per week over eight weeks.
Tumors responded in nearly 35 percent of the patients who received the cisplatin/epinephrine gel while 20 percent had complete responses. There was only a 5 percent response for those who received the placebo gel. Treatment goals for patients included pain control, wound care, symptom relief and better physical appearance. Patients who received the cisplatin/epinephrine gel met more of their treatment goals than the control group.
Authors of the study write, "Cisplatin/epinephrine injectable gel reduces tumor burden, ameliorates tumor symptoms, and provides a new therapeutic option for treating patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck."