EORTC Head and Neck Group aims to contribute to better patient management of the disease by validating new treatments. And to improve the understanding of this group of diseases by examining why individuals respond in a certain way to therapy. The research focuses on five main areas:

  • early stage oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma,
  • locally advanced pharyngolaryngeal squamous cell carcinoma,
  • pre-operative oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma,
  • recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma and salivary gland tumours and
  • Quality of Life in this group of patients.

Main Achievements

  • Launched an artificial intelligence (AI) task force to explore the application of an AI surgery guided approach in a European grant. Also explored innovative ideas with novel concepts, including circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) to guide adjuvant treatment.
  • Contributed to the SPECTA Arcagen trial to analyse the genetic material of tumour samples from patients, including those with rare head and neck cancers. At the cut-off date, molecular alterations were found in the tumours of 629 patients of whom 421 were theoretically treatable by an existing therapy. Approved treatment in the right tumour type could be proposed in 58 cases.
  • Two proposals were endorsed by the Board with one proposal under Protocol Review Committee (PRC) review and another ready for submission to authorities. Recruitment is ongoing in four clinical studies and two research projects.
  • Collaborated with the Endocrine Tumour Group to develop synergies for strategy and protocol development.

A pioneering EORTC study demonstrated that a larynx preservation strategy provides similar overall survival rates compared with conventional treatment with total laryngectomy, and allowed two-thirds of the survivors to retain their larynx in patients with locally-advanced hypopharyngeal cancer.

In parallel, our research established, in the framework of larynx preservation protocols, the EORTC neo-adjuvant triple drug as the standard of care in locally-advanced unresectable laryngeal and hypopharyngeal tumours.

EORTC also contributed to the validation of alternated fractionation radiotherapy regimen, resulting in a 19% improved loco-regional control rate in patients with T2-T3, N0-N1 oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

The group also established post-operative radiotherapy (66 Gy in 6.5 weeks) with concurrent administration of high dose cisplatin as the standard of care for patients with locally-advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with R1 resection.

Related Projects

  • ERP 456 and 459: Translational research linked to afatinib window trial (EORTC 90111) (project leaders: Lisa Licitra and Jean-Pascal Machiels)
    Translational research is currently ongoing at the laboratories in UCL Brussels and IT Milano. RP 1353: 24971-TR project for evaluation of the association of tumor HPV and p16 status with progression-free survival among patients with stage III or IV HNSCC (project leader: Amanda Psyrri)
  • Manuscript has been submitted for publication. RP 1237: 24971 – Prognostic factor analysis (project leader: Jan B. Vermorken)Additional work is required as statistical properties of the prognostic models tested are not adequate; objectives of the modeling need to be reconsidered.
  • RP 1473: The implementation of a newly established therapeutic model in patients with head and neck cancer in real-world cancer care (project leader: Lifang Liu, from EORTC HQ)
    The case study is being further developed by the Belgian Cancer Registry with no significant involvement of EORTC at the moment.

European Reference Networks (ERN) for rare solid tumours (EURACAN). EURACAN is involving references centers in Europe covering ten types of rare cancers. EURACAN will improve patient cares and facilitate research in rare cancers.  EORTC is providing the clinical research infrastructure. (No website available yet)

Research Group

Group documents
  • Chair

    Jean-Pascal Machiels

    Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Chair-Elect

    Silke Tribius

    Asklepios Klinik St. Georg
    Hermann-Holthusen-Institute of Radiation Oncology

    Hamburg, Germany

  • Secretary

    Christian Simon

    Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois

    Lausanne , Switzerland

  • Treasurer

    Jens Peter Klußmann

    Universitaetsklinikum Koeln

    Cologne, Germany

Subcommittee Representatives

  • E. Ozsahin - Lausanne, CH


    Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois

  • L. Locati - Pavia, IT

    Endocrine Tumours Group representative

    Istituti Clinici Scientifici Maugeri

  • K. Hunter - Sheffield, GB

    Pathobiology Group Representative

    University of Liverpool

  • R. Lhommel - Brussels, BE

    Imaging Group Representative

    Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc

  • A. Dietz - Leipzig, DE


    Universitaetsklinikum Leipzig

  • P. Szturz - Lausanne, CH

    Young Investigator

    Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois

  • E. Orlandi - Pavia, IT

    Radiation Oncology Science Council representative

    entro Nazionale di Adroterapia Oncoloica par il trattamento dei tumori

  • K. Taylor - Mainz, DE

    Quality of Life

    Univ Mainz - Institut fuer Medizinische -Biometrie, Epidemiologie und informatik

  • A. Varges Gomes - Faro, PT

    Medical Oncology

    Centro Hospitalar Universitario do Algarve

  • P. Saintigny - Lyon, FR

    Translational Researcher

    Centre Leon Berard

  • P. Bonomo - Florence, IT

    Radiation Oncology - Older Adult Council representative

    Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Careggi

  • P. Bossi - Brescia, IT

    Older Adult Council representative

    Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale Degli Spedali Civili di Brescia

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