Head and Neck Cancers

The nationally renowned experts of the OSUCCC – James Head and Neck Oncology Program are dedicated to developing and conducting meaningful research that advances innovative breakthroughs and treatments for patients with head and neck malignancies.

Working collaboratively, the OSUCCC – James Head and Neck Oncology Program research team reaches across many disciplines – medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons, researchers and more – to share knowledge, expertise and world-class skills that move research and discoveries from the bench to the bedside.

These specialists, sub-specialists and super sub-specialists are leading research in high-tech, state-of-the-art laboratories not available anywhere else in central Ohio (and one of only a handful in the country), transforming the way head and neck cancers are prevented, detected, treated and, yes, cured.


The OSUCCC – James Head and Neck Oncology Program mission is to create and conduct impactful, groundbreaking clinical research that, when combined with innovative translational science, leads to advanced treatment strategies that are tailored to each patient’s individual cancer and, ultimately, improve outcomes.

To achieve this mission, the head and neck oncology research team extends beyond the lab to promote collaboration and cooperation, not only across the many disciplines at the OSUCCC – James but also across a network of institutions, including through the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN). Launched in May 2014, ORIEN enhances precision cancer medicine efforts already in place at member organizations (the OSUCCC – James is one of two original anchor members) by enabling unprecedented research opportunities driving greater collaboration. All ORIEN members use a single protocol, Total Cancer Care® (TCC). To date, more than 200,000 TCC-consented patients have agreed to donate their tissue and clinical data for research to understand cancer at the molecular level. ORIEN members share de-identified data to accelerate the development of precision medicine and treatments, which enables researchers and clinicians to match eligible patients more quickly to clinical trials and conduct larger and more comprehensive analyses.

Clinical Trials

OSUCCC – James head and neck clinical trials provide a broad spectrum of opportunities for patients regardless of type of cancer or even stage. Trials range from national, multi-institutional studies that are looking for new standards of care to early clinical trials in which a patient may be one of only a few in the world receiving a certain therapy. In fact, OSUCCC – James patients have access to more of this nation’s leading-edge, targeted treatments and drugs than anywhere else in the area.

One of the many exciting research studies spearheaded by physician-scientists at the OSUCCC – James offers new hope for patients diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The study investigated the pathogenesis of cancer of the head and neck and discovered that the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) produces head and neck cancer in a subset of younger patients. This revelation led to the creation of strategies to protect these individuals from developing cancer associated with this virus.

View a comprehensive list of head and neck cancer clinical trials.

The Head and Neck Oncology Program also benefits from National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding to the OSUCCC – James, which supports the cost of conducting phase I and phase II clinical trials and facilitates the movement of promising phase II studies into phase III national trials.

Clinical Research Accomplishments, Scientific Presentations and Publications

The OSUCCC – James Head and Neck Oncology Program experts often present their findings and accomplishments to medical experts from around the world through presentations, publications and numerous national and international meetings and conferences they attend throughout each year.

This includes giving scientific presentations annually as well as earning coverage in medical journal publications. Recent publications include:

Predictors of Gastrostomy Tube Dependence in Surgically Managed Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Published in Laryngoscope.

  PIs: John Grecula, MD; Steve Walston, DO; Douglas Martin, MD; Marcelo Bonomi, MD; James
       Rocco, MD, PhD; Matthew Old, MD; Dukagjin Blakaj, MD, PhD

Risk Factors Associated With Postoperative Delirium in Patients Undergoing Head and Neck Free Flap Reconstruction. Published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.

  PIs: Stephen Kang, MD; Enver Ozer, MD; Amit Agrawal, MD; Ricardo Carrau, MD; James
       Rocco, MD, PhD; Matthew Old, MD

Multicenter Assessment of Antibiotic Prophylaxis Spectrum on Surgical Infections in Head and Neck Cancer Microvascular Reconstruction. Published in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

  PI: Matthew Old, MD

Quality of Life Outcomes of Transoral Robotic Surgery With or Without Adjuvant Therapy for Oropharyngeal Cancer. Published in Laryngoscope.

  PI: Matthew Old, MD; Amit Agrawal, MD; Enver Ozer, MD

Effect of Adjuvant Radiotherapy Treatment Center Volume on Overall Survival. Published in Oral Oncology.

  PI: Douglas Martin, MD; Richard Carrau, MD; Enver Ozer, MD; Amit Agrawal, MD; Stephen Kang, MD;
     James Rocco, MD, PhD; Dukagjin Blakaj, MD, PhD; John Grecula, MD; Matthew Old, MD

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