Immunity has an important role to play in Skin Cancers of the Face, Scalp and Neck.

Immunity is essential for good health. It consists of many complex processes that the body is able to use to protect itself. These include, among many others, the ability to heal after cuts and bruises, the ability to fight off infections and the process of trying to identify and kill cancer cells.

Doctors are very aware of the important role that the body’s immune system plays in fighting cancer and also how to identify if the immune system may not be working well.

A recent paper in an Ear Nose and Throat Journal (1) looked specifically at skin cancers called squamous cell cancers or SCC’s, of the head and neck. The paper looked at people who had skin cancers on the face scalp and neck, and compared those whose immune system was working normally to those people whose immune system was not.

The paper found that those people with a normal immune system who had treatments were significantly protected from skin cancer progression when compared to those people who had similar treatments but whose immune system was not working well.

This study is very exciting because it is the first time in the initial assessment of any head and neck cancer that the health of the immune system has been proposed as a separate condition to try and help predict how people may respond to their treatment. In this case it is those people who are diagnosed with skin cancers of the face, scalp or neck.

However, there is still much work to be done to confirm these findings and also to find out which specific problems with immune health are more important when treatment is planned.    

1. Elghouche AN, Pflum ZE , Schmalbach CE. Immunosuppression Impact on Head and Neck Cutaneous Squamous Cell Cancer : A Systemic Review with Meta-analysis . Otolar Head Neck Surgery. 2019; 160: 439-446.

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