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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2004 Dec;53(12):1055-67.

Targeting the immune system: novel therapeutic approaches in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


Despite advances in surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, the overall survival rates for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) have not changed over the last decades. Clearly, novel therapeutic strategies are needed for this cancer, which is highly immunosuppressive. Therefore, biologic therapies able to induce and/or up-regulate antitumor immune responses could represent a complementary approach to conventional treatments. Because patients with SCCHN are frequently immunocompromised due to the elimination or dysfunction of critical effector cells of the immune system, it might be necessary to restore these immune functions to allow for the generation of more effective antitumor host responses. Simultaneously, to prevent tumor escape, it might be necessary to alter attributes of the malignant cells. The present review summarizes recent advances in the field of immunotherapy of SCCHN, including techniques of nonspecific immune stimulation, the use of monoclonal antibodies, advances in adoptive immunotherapy and genetic engineering, as well as anticancer vaccines. These biologic therapies, alone or in combination with conventional treatment, are likely to develop into useful future treatment options for patients with SCCHN.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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