Head and Neck Cancers

Ana Kiess often treats cancers that occur amid confined spaces in the proximity of the brain, eyes and other vital anatomy. She plans to explore proton therapy for the treatment of salivary gland and skull-based tumors to spare the brain stem, brain and optic structures from radiation. The precision of proton therapy and the ability to stop the beam at the tumor will provide new opportunities to cure patients with advanced cancers, she says. In sinus and nasal cancers, calculating radiation dose is difficult because of the potential density changes.

Ana Kiess, MD, PhD

The patient may have clear sinuses as treatment begins that become filled with mucus before the end of treatment.

 - Ana Kiess, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences

As a result, these patients require complex treatment planning, replanning and dose calculations to account for these dynamic changes. She will be collaborating with Oncospace inventor Todd McNutt and others to use data to help create sophisticated advanced planning for these patients. Kiess is excited about proton therapy clinical trials for patients with these less common cancers.

“Through clinical trials we learn from each patient, improving the understanding of toxicities and ways to improve treatments,” she says.