Stand Up To Cancer has announced $3.25 million in grants from four national nonprofits to fund research to find new treatments for head and neck cancers, which are newly diagnosed in about 65,000 Americans every year. The grants include contributions of $1.5 million each from the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund and the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. The American Head and Neck Society and the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance are each providing $125,000 to support the project.
The grants will support new approaches to treating head and neck cancers, especially those associated with Fanconi anemia and human papillomavirus (HPV). Fanconi anemia is a rare inherited disease that often leads to bone marrow failure and cancer; the incidence of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in people with Fanconi anemia is 500- to 700-fold higher than in the general population, and treatment options are limited. HPV is a common virus that can cause cancer, including cancer of the throat; approximately 45,300 people with HPV will be diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States.
Experts estimate there are about 550,000 cases of various kinds of head and neck cancer diagnosed around the world each year, with 300,000 annual deaths due to the cancers. Research has also shown that the incidence of head and neck cancer is increased in Black people and that the 5-year survival rate for Black people is decreased compared with White people. Black patients are also typically diagnosed with more advanced head and neck cancer.
In all races and ethnicities, men have higher rates of HPV-associated cancers of the oropharynx than women. Black and Hispanic men and women tend to have lower rates of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers than White and non-Hispanic men and women. In addition to oropharyngeal cancers, HPV can also cause anal, cervical, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
Unique Approach to Collaboration
The research team will be entitled the Stand Up To Cancer–Fanconi Anemia Research Fund–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Head and Neck Cancer Research Team. The researchers are being brought together in an innovative way. Scientists are be selected to attend a 2-day Ideas Lab. The Ideas Lab is being structured to help leading scientists from different disciplines explore how they could work together to make progress on understanding head and neck cancers. At the end of the meeting, the researchers are being invited to write formal proposals and suggest a budget for a 3-year grant.