HNCA is Partnering with Stand Up To Cancer to Fund for Cancer Research

HNCA is pleased to join Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C), the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund (FARF), the Farrah Fawcett Foundation (FFF) and the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) to fund $3.25 million in research grants to find new treatments for head and neck cancers, which are newly diagnosed in about 65,000 Americans every year.

The grants include contributions of $1.5 million each from the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund and the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. The American Head and Neck Society and the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance are each providing $125,000 to support the project.

The grants will support new approaches to treating head and neck cancers, especially those associated with Fanconi anemia and human papillomavirus, or HPV. Fanconi anemia is a rare inherited disease that often leads to bone marrow failure and cancer; the incidence of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in people with Fanconi anemia is 500- to 700-fold higher than in the general population and treatment options are limited. HPV is a very common virus that can cause cancer, including cancer of the throat; approximately 45,300 people with HPV will get a cancer diagnosis every year in the U.S.

Head and neck cancers associated with Fanconi anemia or HPV have something in common: genetic defects that cause Fanconi anemia, as well as genetic changes resulting from HPV infection, both adversely affect DNA repair systems, which can lead to cancer.

Head and neck cancers can appear in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, thyroid gland, throat or larynx. Experts estimate there are about 550,000 cases of various kinds of head and neck cancer diagnosed around the world each year, with 300,000 annual deaths due to the cancers. About 65,000 new cases, not counting thyroid cancer, are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Research has also shown that the incidence of head and neck cancer is increased in Black people and that the 5-year survival rate for Black people is decreased compared to white people. Black patients are also typically diagnosed with more advanced head and neck cancer.

In all races and ethnicities, men have higher rates of HPV-associated cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) than women. Black and Hispanic men and women have lower rates of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers than white and non-Hispanic men and women. In addition to oropharyngeal cancers, HPV can also cause anal, cervical, penile, vaginal and vulvar cancers.

“Oral, head and neck cancers together make up the sixth most common cancer diagnosed worldwide,” said Amanda Hollinger, executive director of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. “We need to find better ways to diagnose and treat these cancers. That’s why we are so happy to be part of this collaboration.”

The research team will be entitled the Stand Up To Cancer–Fanconi Anemia Research Fund– Farrah Fawcett Foundation Head and Neck Cancer Research Team and the researchers will be brought together in an innovative way. After a request for applications, scientists will be selected to attend a two-day Ideas Lab, scheduled for early 2021. The Ideas Lab will be structured to help leading scientists from different disciplines explore how they could work together to make progress on understanding head and neck cancers. At the end of the meeting, the researchers will be invited to write formal proposals and suggest a budget for a three-year grant.

Stand Up To Cancer has released a Request for Applications; interested researchers should apply by March 22, 2021, to take part in the Ideas Lab. Scientists from all areas of oncology, along with biology, engineering, chemistry, physics and other disciplines, are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be evaluated by a Head and Neck Cancer Research Team joint scientific advisory committee to decide on invitations to the Ideas Lab. That committee, which is led by Helman and includes representatives from each of the funding organizations, will also select and oversee the Head and Neck Cancer Research Team.

About Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. As of August 2020, more than 1,950 scientists representing more than 210 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects.

Under the direction of our Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., SU2C operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs.

Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., serves as SU2C’s CEO. For more information, visit

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I had no idea that HPV could cause head and neck cancer. I am an advocate for everyone I know. I don’t want them to experience what I and my family experienced because we did not know about this sexually transmitted virus.Tina O’Dell
Survivor of HPV-Attributed Stage III Squamous Cell

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