Within the Head and Neck Cancer-Track at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2013 a large number of abstracts have been presented. The aim of this short review is to highlight those abstracts with the highest immediate clinical impact and to draw attention to some of the latest basic research findings, which might open new pathways toward more efficacious treatments.
The phase III DECISION trial, presented at the meeting, now defines sorafenib as the new standard first-line treatment for patients with advanced, radioactive iodine refractory highly differentiated thyroid cancer. In the Italian GSTTC-trial bio-radiotherapy (radiotherapy + cetuximab) did neither prove to be more effective nor to cause less toxicity than chemoradiotherapy, although several methodological issues prohibit definitive conclusions. The focus of basic research is still directed to continuing efforts to better define the genetic background of squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, with the at ASCO presented update of the cancer-genome-atlas (TCGA) project representing the largest cohort analyzed for potential driver alterations in a comprehensive way till date.