Research in Head and Neck Oncology

The Department is active in Head and Neck Cancer research including areas of cancer biology, translational cancer research, novel therapeutics, and clinical trials. Novel therapeutics are offered including immunotherapy, targeted biological treatment, new radiotherapy protocols, and new chemotherapy protocols, not yet available outside the trials.  The department offers Transoral Robotic Surgery  (TORS) at both the Royal Victoria Hospital of MUHC (Glen site) and the Jewish General Hospital with active trials.

Currently there are many trials on head and neck cancer active and accruing patients within the Department and the McGill Head and Neck Cancer Program.  For list of trials on head and neck cancer see

Transotral Robotic Surgery Trials:

NeCTORS Trial: Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and Transoral Robotic Surgery

Principal Investigator: Nader Sadeghi

Tel: 514-394-1934 Ext 34978

Co-Investigators: Nathaniel Bouganim, Keith Richardson, Alex Mlynarek, Michael Hier

This novel approach has been pioneered by Dr. Nader Sadeghi and is currently open for accrual in a phase II trial. This is a new concept and novel approach for treatment of advanced oropharyngeal cancer associated with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  The approach includes neoadjuvant (upfront) chemotherapy followed by Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS ) for definitive management of stage 3 and stage 4A oropharyngeal cancers. Surgery is done via TORS and neck dissection.  The trial is designed to start with chemotherapy first.  This provides effective systemic treatment to prevent systemic metastasis while it also down-stages the tumor in the neck and the primary site, allowing less invasive yet effective surgery.  The trial is unique in its concept and approach in that it is surgery based. It is not radiotherapy based unlike standard treatment options and other ongoing trials for oropharyngeal cancer. It is a paradigm shifting approach that allows avoiding radiotherapy, hence avoiding all side effects and chronic sequellae associated with radiotherapy to the head and neck region.

The original publication describing the approach:

Psychosocial Oncology Research Program

The Psychosocial Research Program of the Department is headed by Dr. Melissa Henry. Dr. Henry’s research program aims to implement and evaluate interventions targeting early determinants of mental health, combining translational research with a major focus on head and neck oncology. Patients with head and neck cancer have been understudied despite presenting higher levels of psychological distress, physical symptom burden, and morbidity, compared to patients in general oncology.  Dr. Henry is mainly interested in preventing long- term psychological distress trajectories and promoting health through thoughtfully planned early interventions, based on sound modeling including translational research combining the fields of psychology, oncology, and most recently genetics. Her innovative and productive research program has and will continue to have an important impact on identifying algorithms for early recognition of head and neck cancer patients at risk of deteriorated mental health, psychological distress, and quality of life compromise during their illness and treatment trajectory. Her research program is already contributing to our better understanding of the biological component to this biopsychosocial vulnerability in a way that has never been previously done, including the underlying contribution of polygenic risk scores, gene-environment interactions, and immunological processes.

Implementing an e-Intervention to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms and Improve Psychosocial Oncology Uptake in Patients Newly Diagnosed with Head and Neck Cancer: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Principal Investigator: Melissa Henri

Co-Investigator: Nader Sadeghi, Michael Hier, Alex Mlynarek, Keith Richardson

Functional Outcome Research on Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship: Factors affecting functional outcome in head and neck cancer.

Principal Investigator: Nader Sadeghi

Co-Investigators: Keith Richardson, Alex Mlynarek, Michael Hier, Marco Mascarella

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