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Funding announcement for an innovative HPV-related cancer study

Researchers investigate possible treatment de-escalation for tonsil cancer
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) has announced a project grant award of $860,628 over six years for a research project lead by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). The HN.10 study will investigate the potential benefits of the de-escalation of treatment for patients with tonsil cancer.

Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is one of the most common forms of head and neck cancer. Although this type cancer is often associated with other risk factors, OPSCC related to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has seen a dramatic increase globally.

Radiotherapy is frequently used to cure patients with HPV-related OPSCC and is aimed at the tumour site and lymph nodes in the neck. The side effects of this treatment can be long lasting and distressing. Researchers would like to know if radiotherapy to some of the lymph node areas can be safely omitted to decrease side effects without compromise of tumour control.

“Most cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma are cured with radiotherapy, but side effects are the real challenge with this treatment,” says Dr. Scott Bratman, researcher at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and one of the study leads. “We want to offer patients more tolerable treatments that are still effective at curing the cancer. This award allows us to run a national study to investigate the effectiveness of reducing the regions of the lymph nodes that are treated with radiotherapy.”

“Head and neck cancer is an uncommon tumour and collaborative research is needed to address important questions,” says CCTG Senior Investigator Wendy Parulekar. “This trial will involve highly qualified treatment centres across Canada who have a track record of addressing important questions about the optimal treatment of head and neck cancer.

Patients enrolled in the study will be followed after treatment to assess cure rates, side effects, ability to swallow, quality of life, and impact of therapy on their use of medical and supportive resources. There will also be an evaluation of the likelihood of cancer recurrence within the lymph node regions of the neck that were left untreated.

HN.10 CIHR Grant

Thank you to our CCTG network applicants and collaborators

Primary Applicants:

  • Wendy Parulekar, Canadian Cancer Trials Group
  • Scott Bratman, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre


  • James Butler, Cancer Care Manitoba
  • Bingshu Chen, Canadian Cancer Trials Group (Biostatistician)
  • Winson Cheung, University of Calgary
  • Marc Gaudet, University of Ottawa
  • Benjamin Haibe-Kains, University Health Network
  • Irene Karam, Sunnybrook Hospital
  • Craig Pochini, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • John Waldron, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre


  • Eric Berthelet, University of British Colombia
  • Isabelle Gauthier, Universite de Sherbrooke
  • Alex Hammond, London Health Sciences Centre
  • Nader Khaouam, Hopital Maisonneueve-Rosement
  • Shazia Mahmood, University of Saskatchewan
  • Robert Olson, University of British Colombia
  • Kevin Ramchandar, Regional Cancer Care Northwest
  • Ken Schneider, Windsor Regional Cancer Program
  • George Shenouda, McGill University
  • Khalil Sultanem, Jewish General Hospital
  • James Wright, Juravinski Cancer Centre