Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Disparities in Head and Neck Cancer


Clinicians at Baylor College of Medicine provide cancer care to a diverse patient population through our affiliated hospitals which include the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) and Ben Taub General Hospital (BTGH). Our researchers have embraced this diverse patient population over the last decade, in order to:

  1. Understand social, epidemiologic and biological drivers of disparate oncologic outcomes
  2. Develop treatment algorithms which can deliver state of the science oncologic treatments with high NCCN compliance across these patient population

Our clinical studies have demonstrated equivalent oncologic outcomes are possible when health delivery systems provide consistent delivery of treatment to all patients that present with head and neck cancer in a manner compliant with NCCN-guidelines. Active research efforts are directed toward determining whether environmental exposures, or intrinsic tumor characteristics interact with head and neck cancer treatment regimens to potential drive disparate oncologic outcomes even in the setting of equitable cancer care delivery.

Recent Publications:

Fullmer TM, Shi J, Skinner HD, Hernandez DJ, Huang AT, Mai W, Parke RB, Donovan DT, Sandulache VC. Early glottic cancer in a veteran population: Impact of race on management and outcomes. Laryngoscope. 2020 Jul;130(7):1733-1739. doi: 10.1002/lary.28262. Epub 2019 Aug 28. PMID: 31461171.
Fullmer T, Wilde DC, Shi JW, Wagner T, Skinner H, Eicher SA, Sandulache VC, Hernandez DJ. Demographic and Tumor Characteristic Impact on Laryngeal Cancer Outcomes in a Minority Underserved Patient Population. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 Jun;162(6):888-896. doi: 10.1177/0194599820907064. Epub 2020 Feb 25. PMID: 32093532.

Florez MA, Kemnade JO, Chen N, Du W, Sabichi AL, Wang DY, Huang Q, Miller-Chism CN, Jotwani A, Chen AC, Hernandez D, Sandulache VC. Persistent ethnicity-associated disparity in anti-tumor effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors despite equal access. Cancer Res Commun. 2022 Jul 26;2022:10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-21-0143. doi: 10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-21-0143. PMID: 35966167; PMCID: PMC9367161.

Koyuncu CF, Nag R, Lu C, Corredor G, Viswanathan VS, Sandulache VC, Fu P, Yang K, Pan Q, Zhang Z, Xu J, Chute DJ, Thorstad WL, Faraji F, Bishop JA, Mehrad M, Castro PD, Sikora AG, Thompson LDR, Chernock RD, Lang Kuhs KA, Wasman JK, Luo JR, Adelstein DJ, Koyfman SA, Lewis JS Jr, Madabhushi A. Image analysis reveals differences in tumor multinucleations in Black and White patients with human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer. 2022 Nov 1;128(21):3831-3842. 

Piyarathna DWB, Balasubramanian A, Arnold JM, Lloyd SM, Karanam B, Castro P, Ittmann MM, Putluri N, Navone N, Jones JA, Yu W, Sandulache VC, Sikora AG, Michailidis G, Sreekumar A. ERR1 and PGC1α associated mitochondrial alterations correlate with pan-cancer disparity in African Americans. J Clin Invest. 2019 Mar 28;129(6):2351-2356. 

Liu Y, Kramer JR, Sandulache VC, Yu R, Li G, Chen L, Yusuf ZI, Shi Y, Pyarajan S, Tsavachidis S, Jiao L, Mierzwa ML, Chiao E, Mowery YM, Shuman A, Shete S, Sikora AG, White DL. Immunogenetic Determinants of Susceptibility to Head and Neck Cancer in the Million Veteran Program Cohort. Cancer Res. 2022 Nov 15;CAN-22-1641.