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Recurrent, HPV, Head, Neck Cancer- Therapies

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“However, all current treatment regimens for head and neck cancer have adverse effects. Therefore, continuing investigations have been undertaken to seek less toxic therapies to reduce treatment morbidity for head and neck cancer.”

My fiance is about to start Keytruda therapy for recurring head and neck squamous hpv cancer. 3 lymph nodes involved. We would like more info on grapeseed extract and alternative therapies. Sherry-


Hi Sherry-

I am sorry to learn of your fiancé’s recurrent head and neck cancer with local involvement. If your fiancé underwent local radiation previously to his neck/jaw area, please consider hyperbaric oxygen therapy soon. I underwent local radiation to my neck in ’95 and went on to develop a serious side effect called xerostomia aka dry mouth.
There is a lot of info below. If you have any questions about anything let me know.
My definition of “alternative” therapy is/are therapies taken to fully replace or taken instead of conventional therapies such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
While there are many alternative therapies promoted in the world today, few if any of these therapies are supported with any degree of research. There is lots of anecdotal evidence but this evidence is simply personal stories.
My favorite example is the therapy I took when my oncologist told me that I was end-stage and that there was nothing more they could do for me. I then underwent Antineoplaston therapy (ANP) from the Burzynski Research Institute (BRI) in Houston Tx. I think ANP cured me but I am only one person.
My point is that while ANP took me from end-stage multiple myeloma to complete remission, there is little if any research about ANP that I can use to recommend this alternative cancer. I have no idea of ANP shows any efficacy in head and neck cancer so I can’t recommend this therapy to you.
Because, according to research, conventional therapies are limited at your fiancée’s stage, and because I have limited information about your fiancé’s situation,  I will list those therapies shown to enhance conventional therapies- for example,
  1. If your fiancé undergoes Keytruda, he should consider adding fiber to his diet as fiber is shown to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy.
  2. As you read in the blog post that you came in on, grapeseed extract has been shown to kill head and neck cancer. I would also consider curcumin supplementation also.
  3. I would also consider a nutrient-dense diet.
  4. I was also HPV positive when I was diagnosed with my cancer (myeloma is different, I know, I’m just saying…) and I supplemented with AHCC for two months- shown to clear the virus.
Sherry- because there is a lot about your fiancé’s situation that I don’t know, please let me know if you have any questions.
Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:


Immunotherapy for head and neck cancer: Recent advances and future directions 

Three randomized phase III trials have now conclusively proven that exposure to a PD-1 inhibitor prolongs survival in recurrent/metastatic (R/M) HNSCC, and it is clear that such agents should be used in the management of all patients who do not have contraindications to their use.
Two of these phase III randomized trials showed that the anti-PD1 antibodies nivolumab and pembrolizumab were superior to investigators’ choice chemotherapy in second-line platinum-refractory R/M HNSCC.
Recently, a third phase III randomized trial, KEYNOTE-048, showed that pembrolizumab with chemotherapy was superior to the EXTREME regimen (cis- or carboplatin, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cetuximab) in all patients, and pembrolizumab monotherapy was superior in patients whose tumors express PD-L1 in first-line R/M HNSCC.
Pembrolizumab is now approved as monotherapy in PD-L1 expressing disease (combined positive score ≥1) or in combination with chemotherapy for all patients with R/M HNSCC.
Thus, PD-L1 biomarker testing will be routinely used in R/M HNSCC, and this employs a scoring system that incorporates immune cell staining, referred to as the combined positive score (CPS).
Additionally, for the 85% of patients with PD-L1 CPS ≥1, clinical judgment will guide the choice of pembrolizumab monotherapy or pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy, until more detailed clinical data are forthcoming to better inform this decision. In this article we discuss the clinical trials leading to these therapeutic advances and we will review initial results from clinical trials in previously untreated, locally advanced disease, and those using novel combinations of checkpoint inhibitors, co-stimulatory agonists, and therapeutic vaccines.

Concentration effects of grape seed extracts in anti-oral cancer cells involving differential apoptosis, oxidative stress, and DNA damage- 

Grape seeds extract (GSE) is a famous health food supplement for its antioxidant property. Different concentrations of GSE may have different impacts on cellular oxidative/reduction homeostasis. Antiproliferative effect of GSE has been reported in many cancers but rarely in oral cancer.

Methods- The aim of this study is to examine the antioral cancer effects of different concentrations of GSE in terms of cell viability, apoptosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial function, and DNA damage.

Results-High concentrations (50–400 μg/ml) of GSE dose-responsively inhibited proliferation of oral cancer Ca9-22 cells but low concentrations (1–10 μg/ml) of GSE showed a mild effect in a MTS assay. For apoptosis analyses, subG1 population and annexin V intensity in high concentrations of GSE-treated Ca9-22 cells was increased but less so at low concentrations. ROS generation and mitochondrial depolarization increased dose-responsively at high concentrations but showed minor changes at low concentrations of GSE in Ca9-22 cells. Additionally, high concentrations of GSE dose-responsively induced more γH2AX-based DNA damage than low concentrations.

Conclusions-Differential concentrations of GSE may have a differentially antiproliferative function against oral cancer cells via differential apoptosis, oxidative stress and DNA damage.

Anti-cancer effects of curcumin on head and neck cancers-

“Head and neck cancer is the sixth large type of cancer in the world. The treatment regimens for head and neck cancer encompass surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, all current treatment regimens for head and neck cancer have adverse effects. Therefore, continuing investigations have been undertaken to seek less toxic therapies to reduce treatment morbidity for head and neck cancer.

Substantial evidence has demonstrated that curcumin inhibited proliferation, migration, invasion and metastasis and induced apoptosis via modulating multiple signaling pathways in head and neck cancer. Curcumin also suppressed the growth of xenograft derived from head and neck cancer in vivo in animal models.

This review summarizes the evidence demonstrating potential use of curcumin as a single chemotherapeutic agent or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents and radiation to minimize their toxicity in head and neck cancer. Although curcumin has been shown to be safe at doses of 8 g/d in both phase I and phase II clinical trials, its bioavailability is poor. Overcoming the poor bioavailability of curcumin in the near future would facilitate its clinical use.

Effects of Immunonutrition in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatment – A Systematic Review- 

In conclusion, the present review found that supplementation with immunonutrient-enriched formulas in HNC patients during radiotherapy and chemotherapy may improve or maintain nutrition status. Supplementation with glutamine during HNC radiotherapy and chemotherapy may delay the onset of oral mucositis and reduce the incidence of severe oral mucositis. However, these findings are not conclusive, given the studies heterogeneity. Therefore, further investigations are encouraged in the future, focusing on the timing, dosage and duration of immunonutrition required for nutrition optimisation.

From Bench to Bedside: Evaluation of AHCC Supplementation to Modulate the Host Immunity to Clear High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Infections- 

Conclusion: Pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated durable clearance of HR-HPV infections. The preliminary data from the two pilot studies suggested that AHCC supplementation supports the host immune system for successful clearance of HR-HPV infections. A confirmatory phase II randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study is ongoing.

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