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Cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells that results in formation of a mass called tumor. This tumor can be cancerous or benign. Head and neck cancer is the terminology used to define a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth. Furthermore, head and neck cancers initiate in squamous cells, cells that line moist surfaces such as those inside the head and neck (for example, the mouth, nose, and throat). Salivary glands have different types of cells that can turn cancerous. Chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) increases the risk of head and neck cancer. Other risk factors for head and neck cancers include excessive consumption of paan (betel quid), preserved or salted foods, oral health, occupational exposure, radiation exposure, Epstein barr virus infection, and due to hereditary causes.

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, head and neck cancer is the sixth-most common cancer worldwide, with around 630,000 new patients diagnosed every year, in turn resulting in over 350,000 deaths. Symptoms include a change or hoarseness in the voice, a lump or sore that does not heal, sore throat that does not go away, and unexplained and prolonged trouble swallowing. Around 75% of head and neck cancers are associated with tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco. Infection with HPV is a risk factor for some head and neck cancers.

Need for effective and targeted treatment is critical to increase the survival rates

Treatment of head and neck cancer is a major challenge for physicians, as the affectivity and choice of treatment varies from patient to patient and location of the tumor. Owing to complexity of facial structures and functions limits the surgical treatments for head and neck cancers, with surgery being the preferred mode of treatment. Post-surgery, functions such as chewing, talking, and swallowing may be adversely affected. Physicians opt for surgical therapy in combination with radiation therapy for treatment of the malady. Survival rate of head and neck cancer has reduced from 80% to 50% in last ten years, as currently available treatment options mainly treat the symptoms. Recent developments in the area of advanced chemotherapy and radiotherapy permit preserving some of the functions of the face. The introduction of targeted molecular therapy such as gene therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and antibody drug conjugates creates major growth avenues for the head and neck cancer market.

High incidence rate creates a potential growth opportunity for the market players

Growing occurrence of head and neck cancer and increasing research activities to develop cost-effective treatment options are the factors which are driving growth of the global head and neck cancer market. According to the World Health Organization, 3 - 5% of the population around the globe suffers from head and neck cancer. Moreover, worldwide approximately 550,000 new cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed annually with almost 300,000 deaths annually. While the cancer can affect people across different age groups, it is especially prevalent among people over 50 years of age. Head and neck cancer is projected to result in 13,360 fatalities (3,420 women and 9,940 men) in 2017. These types of cancers are more than twice as common among men as women.

Increasing geriatric population and rising number of initiatives by government and non-governmental organizations such as Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) creates a highly conducive environment for growth of the global head and neck cancer market.

Key players operating in the head and neck cancer market are AB Science SA, Bayer AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Acceleron Pharma, Inc., Astellas Pharma Inc., Boston Biomedical, Inc., AbbVie Inc., and AstraZeneca Plc.

Key Developments:

  • In February 2020, Galera Therapeutics, Inc., announced that Avasopasem manganese (GC4419), a novel drug molecule is in their pipeline. Avasopasem manganese (GC4419), the candidate drug molecule is being developed for reducing the severe oral mucositis (SOD) which is normally induced due to radiotherapy. Avasopasem manganese (GC4419) selectively and rapidly convert superoxide into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen, which in turn protect the normal tissues from the ill-effects of superoxide. If the condition is left untreated, the superoxide can attack and damage the non-cancerous tissue, leading to many side-effects, which can limit the efficiency of radiotherapy in the patients.
  • In February 2020, Nanobiotix, a nanomedicine company announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) granted fast track designation for the radioenhancer NBTXR3, in the presence or absence of Cetuximab for the treatment of patients suffering from locally advanced head and neck squamous cell cancer and are not eligible for platinum-based chemotherapy. During the phase I/II of the clinical trials, the patients suffering from head and neck cancer, showed complete or partial response to the treatment. Therefore, the company plans to initiate phase III of the clinical trials in order to further assess the treatment of NBTXR3 for the head and neck cancer.
  • In January, 2020, The John Hopkins University announced that they planned to launch treatment de-escalation trial i.e., for patients suffering from HPV related head and neck cancer and responding to the low intensity of treatments, such patients would be subjected for immunotherapy treatment followed by surgery. While the patients suffering from traditional head and neck cancers would be treated with half doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.After this treatment, if the remainings of HPV observed in the saliva and blood of these treated patients, then they will be treated with immunotherapy, in order to eliminate the chance of relapse.
  • On June, 2019, Merck & Co., Inc., announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) approval for pembrolizumab for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
  • In March 2019, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) launched a website, Translational Studies of Head and Neck Cancer in South America and Europe (HEADSpAcE). The data published on the website includes the reasons which lead to poor prognosis of head and neck cancers, especially in Europe and South America. Reasons for late diagnosis; influence of lifestyle, types of infections, and genetic factors on poor outcome etc.
  • In October 2018, Sanofi S.A. received the U.S. FDA approval for the Taxotere, a supplemental new drug which is in the form of injection concentrate. It is injected in combination with cisplatin and fluorouracil for the treatment of patient’s suffering from inoperable locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
  • In 2016, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) approval for nivolumab (OPDIVO Injection,), which has been indicated for the treatment of patients suffering from advanced stage of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) after undergoing platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Head and Neck Cancer Market Taxonomy

By Disease Indication

  • Laryngeal and Hypo pharyngeal Cancer
  • Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer
  • Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer

By Drug Class

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

By Region

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • Africa
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