The prestigious International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics has just published research on osteoradionecrosis carried out by Andrew Lyons, a Head and Neck Surgeon at Guy’s Hospital, which was funded by the Facial Surgery Research Foundation – Saving Faces.
Radiotherapy treatment is frequently used, either on its own or following surgery, to cure cancers of the mouth and throat. It always causes dry mouth and changes in taste perception along with stiffening of the tissues which can result in limited mouth opening and swallowing difficulties, Unfortunately, about 1 in 20 patients also develop a much more severe complication of radiotherapy called osteoradionecrosis of the jaws. We have had no way of predicting which patients are likely develop this problem, until now.
Lyon’s research has identified a growth factor gene which, using a simple blood test, can identify those patients most at risk of osteoradionecrosis. This will help doctors treating head and neck cancer patients to risk assess alternative treatments to radiotherapy in those patients with the faulty gene, thereby reducing the frequency of this condition.
This discovery may also help in developing new drug treatments to cure or prevent osteoradionecrosis. Work on this gene in progress is aiming to see if the same variation will predict those having difficulty with, speech, swallowing and chewing after radiotherapy. Watch this space!
Click here to read the full paper (journal subscription needed)
Or contact Andrew Lyons through Saving Faces.