Excellence Initiative


Personalised post-operative radiochemotherapy in head and neck cancer

Every year about 180000 patients develop head and neck cancer. Despite of state-of-the-art therapy in combination with surgery and adjuvant radiochemotherapy the recurrence rate after 2 years is more than 30%. At the same time big heterogeneity of the recurrence risk can be found within the high-risk group of p16 negative, R1-resected, extracapsular affection of lymph nodes.

This high recurrence risk faces a serious therapeutic morbidity and a long-term mortality that are caused by persistent swallowing disorders and aspiration. Despite the obvious demand of biological stratification no parameters for personalised post-operative radiochemotherapy are defined for decision on escalation of high-risk patients and de-escalation of low-risk patients. So far no multi-parametric models exist for stratification of personalised post-operative radiochemotherapy in head and neck cancer. Such a systems biology approach is not feasible with conventional methods; it needs the collaboration within a consortium with expertise in high-throughput data associated with clinical results.

The overall goal of this project is – in cooperation with different research areas of the ZPM, like High-Throughput Methods or Functional and Molecular Imaging - to prove the clinical feasibility of a patient based integration of complex, multiparametric, tumor associated data (NGS, radio biological tests of intrinsic radiation sensitivity, functional multiparametric MR/PET, radioomics) to evaluate concrete, clinical approaches towards personalised medicine.

Main Objectives