University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)


Image of Globe HNCP investigators are examining the epidemiology of genetic susceptibility in head and neck cancer risk, outcome, and treatment. This work is performed in collaboration with members of the Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Program and utilizes the expertise of the Biostatistics Facility.

Selected Publications

  • Germline variation in DNA damage response may explain variable treatment outcomes in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). By grouping patients according to stage and radiation treatment, investigators compared SCCHN survival with regard to ERCC2 A35931C (Lys751Gln, rs13181) and CCND1 G870A (Pro241Pro, rs9344) genotypes. Results show that although promoting tumor progression in untreated patients, germline differences in DNA-repair or cell-cycle control may improve treatment outcome in patients treated with DNA-damaging agents (Zhong, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Nov;20(11):2429-37).
  • Tumor-specific biomarkers that predict resistance to DNA damaging agents may improve therapeutic outcomes by guiding the selection of effective therapies and limiting morbidity related to ineffective approaches. XPF (ERCC4) is an essential component of several DNA repair pathways and XPF-deficient cells are exquisitely sensitive to DNA damaging agents. Expression level of XPF in HNSCC tumors was found to correlate with clinical response to DNA damaging agents. XPF has potential to guide next generation personalized cancer therapy (Vaezi, Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Aug 15;17(16):5513-22).
  • At our institution, any liver transplant candidate with a recent history of smoking combined with daily use of alcohol prior to a 6-month sobriety period warrants formal evaluation by otolaryngology. Given the significant resource consumption and lack of evidence in support of this strategy, HNCP investigators sought to determine the effectiveness of these guidelines in detecting head and neck cancer. It appears that current screening guidelines are ineffective and need to be reconsidered (Dedhia, Laryngoscope. 2012 Mar;122(3):539-42).


Gooding, William, MS
Grandis, Jennifer, MD, FACS