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Researchers create comprehensive database of head and neck cancers

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In what is believed to be the most comprehensive molecular characterization to date of the most common type of head and neck cancer, researchers from the Johns Hopkins departments of pathology and oncology, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and 18 other centers around the U.S. and Poland have clarified the contribution of key cancer-associated genes, proteins and signaling pathways in these cancers, while proposing possible new treatment avenues.

Their deep-dive investigation of HPV-negative head and neck (HNSCCs), described in the Jan. 7 issue of the journal Cancer Cell, involved tumors from 108 patients who had not yet received , and 66 samples of healthy tissue surrounding the tumors. The study systematically cataloged HPV-negative HNSCC-associated proteins, phosphosites (areas where they are modified by ) and signaling pathways, finding three distinct subtypes of HNSCCs.

HNSCCs arise in the cells that line the upper aerodigestive tract, including the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords, and part of the esophagus and windpipe. The first subtype of HNSCC identified by researchers, dubbed CIN, showed the worst prognosis. It was associated with the larynx, a strong history of smoking and high instability of chromosomes. Because this subtype was associated with frequent aberrations of the CCND1 and CDKN2A genes, and high activity of the enzymes CDK4 and CDK6, this type of cancer may respond best to called CDK4/6 inhibitors.

The second subtype, dubbed Basal, showed protein elevations of several basal factors, the most basic set of proteins needed to activate gene transcription. It was characterized by high activity in a signaling pathway called EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) and high expression of molecules called AREG and TNFA, which attach to the EGFR protein.

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What is palliative care? | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

Palliative care offers care and support from a team of health providers such as doctors, nurses, and social workers. Palliative care isn’t just for those who are nearing the end of life. In fact, it’s for anyone at any age who has a serious illness—and their family caregivers.

Jeri Miller, Ph.D., leads research on end-of-life and palliative care at the National Institute of Nursing Research. As people face serious illnesses, including COVID-19, Dr. Miller explains how a palliative care team can help.

How does palliative care work?

Palliative care is specialized care for people living with a serious illness. You can receive palliative care at the same time you are receiving treatments for your serious illness. What palliative care does is provide relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and others. It also helps you with practical needs, manage the medical treatments you are receiving, improve your quality of life, and provide help to your family.

When do people get palliative care?

Some people receive palliative care for a long time; others do not. It’s not based on your prognosis, but on your needs. Hospice is a special form of palliative care for individuals at the last stages of an illness or advanced disease. After someone passes away, palliative care teams can help support family members who may be grieving that loss.

Who provides palliative care?

It’s provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and others who work with you and your own doctor. They work together to make sure that your care is coordinated with your providers and that they listen to your preferences for care to help you understand your treatment options and choices. They make sure to provide expert symptom management when you are seriously ill.

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