Press Releases

Press Releases

Major Advancement In Treatment Of Jaw Necrosis

The Head & Neck Cancer Foundation is delighted to announce that Professor Mark McGurk, UCLH, and Co-Founding Trustee of the charity, has been providing a ground-breaking technique, shifting the treatment of jaw necrosis from traditional invasive surgery to a medicine-based treatment, known as PENTOCLO treatment.

Jaw Necrosis is an uncommon but serious condition in which the jawbone struggles to repair and maintain health which can lead to segments of the jawbone dying. Typically, head and neck cancer patients who have undergone vital life-saving radiotherapy treatment are at risk of the complication termed ‘osteo-radio-necrosis’ or simply referred to as ‘ORN’. The need for the radiation treatment to pass through the jaws to reach certain cancer sites leaves them potentially vulnerable to the condition with the risk considered lifelong.

Traditionally the treatment for osteoradionecrosis is surgery. This can include partial removal of the patient’s jaw and may additionally involve rebuilding the jaw using bones from either the leg or arm. The surgery is highly complex and may not lead to cure as the surrounding and remaining jawbone, gums and skin also have compromised healing from radiation treatment. This has meant both surgeons and patients may be reluctant to consider surgery so easily in the event it does not work and worsens the situation. However, the latest approach of PENTOCLO treatment now provides patients a potential option for their treatment that may be less invasive, dependent on their case.

Professor Mark McGurk comments on the ground-breaking PENTOCLO treatment and the huge impact it can have on a patient's life: “We have worked incredibly hard to advance this new treatment and prevent invasive surgeries for our patients. We have developed a medicine-based treatment that aims to boost the patient's blood supply to the jaw, reverse some of the damage done to the skin and mouth, and if the bone in the jaw is dead then push the affected bad bone out. This is an enormous development for us, as it is an alternative to bone removal from the jaw, with limited aesthetical impacts. So far PENTOCLO treatment has an overall healing rate of 56% and as high as 72% in small and early cases which is a very high figure given the alternatives can be destructive.”

No Smoking Day 2021

Q. Do YOU Know Someone Who Smokes?

The Head & Neck Cancer Foundation is calling for Brits across the land to look at their family and friends - and ask their loved ones to STOP smoking

London, 03 March 2021: 85% of all head and neck cancer cases are directly linked to tobacco. Research has found that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing a head and neck cancer by 15 times when compared to a non-smoker.

No Smoking Day 2021 is on the 10th March. It is an annual health awareness day, that aims to encourage smokers to quit cigarettes, raise awareness of the addictiveness and dangers of smoking and celebrate those who have successfully quit. It is a pertinent reminder to ask our loved ones to kick the habit and to take care of their health by checking their mouths for signs of oral cancer.

Every day in the UK, 31 people receive the devasting news that they have been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer. The Head & Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) is a charity devoted to driving awareness and education of head and neck cancers including oral cancer. HNCF actively promotes the importance of mouths checks at home - as early diagnosis greatly improves survival rates. This HNCF video explains what to look for when checking your mouth.

Michelle Vickers, CEO of the Head & Neck Cancer Foundation comments: “During the first lockdown we kickstarted our #GetMouthy at home campaign, where we share advice, statistics and information about oral health. The campaign continues to gain momentum and encourages people to go for dental check-ups. If you spot anything that you feel isn’t normal and are at all concerned please speak with your dentist or your GP immediately. Watching our video and doing a mouth check may save your life. We have already had thanks from several of our Facebook fans who watched our video, found signs of cancer and subsequently sought medical advice.”


For further information

Please contact the HNCF press office at We Are MANDATE

HNCF 2020 Virtual Carol Concert


Join the choir of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London

Enjoy an evening of festive carols and music from the comfort of your home

The Head & Neck Cancer Foundation’s annual Christmas carol concert will be streamed on Facebook on Thursday 17th December at 7.00pm

Watch here:

London, 10 December 2020: Following its highly successful carol concert in 2019, HNCF wanted to host this special event again this year, however due to the pandemic the charity decided to make some adjustments. For 2020 HNCF is bringing this stunning event to you on Facebook! Have a fun night in and singing along with your family and friends, by downloading the order of service here.

The choir of the Chapels Royal is regarded as one of Britain’s leading choral groups and occupies a place at the heart of the nation’s royal heritage. Their services have a reputation of excellence and they regularly sing at the Tower of London’s two Chapels Royal, The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula and the Chapel of St John the Evangelist. They will be singing a range of carols including Silent Night, Hark! The herald angels sing, Candlelight Carol and many more!

Michelle Vickers, CEO at the Head & Neck Cancer Foundation says: “Many people’s lives have been affected this year by the crisis. It is so important that we use the Christmas period to reflect on the year we have had and to welcome the new year and happier times. We hope you will enjoy this year’s concert in its new Covid-secure guise. This event is totally free to watch and is our gift to our growing community of supporters.”

If you would like to make a donation to HNCF to help facilitate the fight against head and neck cancers, then please click here to find out how you can support us. The fastest and easiest way to donate to HNCF is by text.

To donate £1, text HNCF to 70201

To donate £3, text HNCF to 70331

To donate £5, text HNCF to 70970

To donate £10, text HNCF to 70191


HNCF Champions Breakthrough in Oral Oncology


Head & Neck Cancer Foundation Champions Breakthrough in Oral Oncology

Major Development in the Surgical Imaging of Facial Nerve

London: 07 December 2020: The Head & Neck Cancer Foundation is delighted to announce that Professor Mark McGurk, UCLH, and Co-Founding Trustee of the charity, has with Simon Morley led the development of a ground-breaking technique to vastly improve patient outcomes from surgery for salivary gland tumours.

Professor McGurk explains why Parotid tumours present such a high risk: “The Parotid glands are the largest of the salivary glands. They are located either side of the mouth, in front of both ears, and produce saliva. Over three quarters (80%) of major tumours in the salivary gland start in this area. A very important nerve (Facial Nerve), which allows movement of the face, runs and branches-out through the parotid gland. The nerve’s placement in the salivary gland means that often, it is within close proximity to tumours - making surgery difficult and leaving a high risk of loss to facial movement. This has a hugely negative impact on the patient’s day-to-day communication and quality of life. This technique means the surgeon will not blindly stumble across the facial nerve structure during surgery but be completely informed before starting surgery. Currently injury to the facial nerve sits at approximately 30% transient from traditional operations of this type.

This advanced new imaging procedure uses the most advanced and powerful MRI scanners, combined with Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, to produce a truly three-dimensional hologram of the surgery site. This is used to forewarn the surgeon of the exact position of the facial nerve in relation to tumours of the Parotid salivary glands, which makes planning an operation far more accurate. Use of the technique mitigates collateral damage to the important facial nerves during treatment.

The technique combines different sequences of MRI imaging to trace the tiny facial nerves running throughout the Parotid gland and to visualise it. Dr Simon Morley has developed a method of using the MRI sequences together with the utilisation of high-contrast imaging technology to demark the nerve’s position. This is then meticulously ‘traced’ by the Radiologist which requires skill and experience. The MRI files are then converted so the data can go into the HoloLens and this creates a true-to-life 3D hologram.

The hologram details the surgery area, the Parotid gland, facial nerve’s position and tumour – all in precise detail. This informs the surgeon prior to surgery. The next step is to correlate the hologram back onto the patient during surgery. This allows the surgeon to make real-time and precisely informed decisions in order to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.

Professor McGurk comments on how the global oncology community will embrace this breakthrough: “We have worked painstakingly hard to get where we are with this. The driver for the HNCF charity is always improving post-operative outcomes for head and neck cancer patients. Our findings will enable better-informed surgeries. Treatment for this type of tumour will now evolve from a standard surgical procedure - and take into account the precise positions of both the tumour and the nerve structure. I predict that once patients and surgeons know there is a way to visualise a tumour and the facial nerve together - both will want to see these images prior to treatment. Surgery will become more refined, with less complications and nerve damage.

Professor McGurk and his colleague Dr Simon Morley (UCLH) are co-delivering an education program to instruct oncology teams around the world on this innovative technique. To date they have instructed teams across the UK, Europe and Asia.


Notes to editors

Images and patient video are available.

Professor Mark McGurk is available for media briefings.

For further information

Please contact the HNCF press office at We Are MANDATE: