Radiant News about Head and Neck Cancer

Boron neutron capture therapy radiation works on sinus, lip, mouth, salivary glands, throat, larynx cancers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For advanced head and neck cancers that have stopped responding to other therapies, there may be a new treatment option that uses something you leaned about in high school science class.

Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) treatment involves producing radiation using boron-10 and thermal neutrons. Low-energy neutrons react with the boron to create radiation that may destroy cancer cells.

Researchers at the Department of Oncology at Helsinki University Central Hospital have been testing the effectiveness of BNCT treatment in fighting head and neck cancer. Patients took part in the clinical trials because conventional therapies were no longer possible.

Of the 30 patients who participated in the trials, 76 percent responded positively to BNCT treatment, and 30 percent were still living two years after treatment. However, only one patient lived as long as 55 months.

The Boneca Corporation - which is located on the main campus of Helsinki University Central Hospital - is the only provider of BNCT treatment in the world.

According to Seppo Pakkala, M.D., Ph.D., Boneca's Chairman of the Board of Directors, the success of BNCT in treating head and neck cancer gives Boneca reason to further the development of the treatment as well as the services required in order to administer it.

Just one or two sessions of BNCT treatment seems to be enough to destroy a tumor, while also limiting the adverse effects of radiation on healthy tissues. As such, BNCT may be an excellent primary therapy for patients with head and neck tumors. In the future, it is Boneca's intention to use BNCT for treating tumors in other areas of the body that currently have no effective therapies.

To date, BNCT treatment has been administered to more than 200 patients. Boneca's CEO, Markku Pohjola, says that there is plenty more room to treat more patients.

In the United States, three to five percent of all cancers are head and neck cancers and are most common in men and people over 50 years of age. Oone of the biggest risk factors is tobacco use. If a screening test result is abnormal, your doctor should order more tests (called diagnostic tests) to find out if you have cancer. Common drugs used to treat head and neck cancer are cetuximab (Erbitux® ), docetaxel (Taxotere ®), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex® and Trexall ®).  

The results of the Helsinki University clinical trials are published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 4, 2011
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014