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Sep 08, 2015
Primary human tumor culture models allow for individualized drug sensitivity testing and are therefore a promising technique to achieve personalized treatment for cancer patients. This would especially be of interest for patients with advanced stage head and neck cancer. They are extensively treated with surgery, usually in combination with high-dose cisplatin chemoradiation. However, adding cisplatin to radiotherapy is associated with an increase in severe acute toxicity, while conferring only a minor overall survival benefit. Hence, there is a strong need for a preclinical model to identify patients that will respond to the intended treatment regimen and to test novel drugs. One of such models is the technique of culturing primary human tumor tissue. This review discusses the feasibility and success rate of existing primary head and neck tumor culturing techniques and their corresponding chemo- and radiosensitivity assays. A comprehensive literature search was performed and success factors for culturing in vitro are debated, together with the actual value of these models as preclinical prediction assay for individual patients. With this review, we aim to fill a gap in the understanding of primary culture models from head and neck tumors, with potential importance for other tumor types as well.

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