Henry Ford Health First in Michigan to Join Multi-Center Study Aimed at Improving Body Image Among Head and Neck Cancer Survivors

August 10, 2023
Bright Trial at Henry Ford Health

DETROIT (Aug. 10, 2023) – Henry Ford Health is the first healthcare system in Michigan to join a multi-center study led by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center aimed at improving the body image of head and neck cancer survivors. Known as the Building a Renewed ImaGe after Head & neck cancer Treatment (BRIGHT) trial, the study was developed with extensive input from survivors of head and neck cancer, caregivers, oncologists and psychologists to help identify the most effective ways to manage concerns about body image among survivors of head and neck cancer.

Individuals who have undergone treatment for head and neck cancer often experience changes to their physical appearance, independence and ability to do certain tasks, such as eating or speaking. The BRIGHT trial is studying two six-week telemedicine-based programs to help head and neck cancer survivors adapt their thoughts, behaviors and coping skills to their new circumstances. 

“Among survivors of head and neck cancer, body image can play a significant role in quality of life,” said Steven Chang, M.D., co-investigator of the BRIGHT trial and vice chair of the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Health. “Studies have shown that approximately one in four survivors struggle with clinically significant body image distress, with younger patients, patients who have had extensive surgery and patients who had wound healing problems at the highest risk. We are eager to participate in this important study, which has the potential to positively impact the lives of many survivors of head and neck cancer.”

This large-scale study follows the published findings of an initial pilot, which was a randomized clinical trial of 44 survivors of head and neck cancer. BRIGHT resulted in a decrease in body image distress relative to the control arm, and patients in BRIGHT were nearly seven-times more likely to have a meaningful clinical improvement.

“The results of our pilot trial evaluating tele-cognitive behavioral therapy for survivors of head and neck cancer are promising,” said Evan Graboyes, M.D., primary investigator of the BRIGHT trial and director of Survivorship and Cancer Outcomes Research at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center. “This underscores the importance of conducting a larger-scale, multi-center study with a diverse set of patients and providers. Up to this point, body image distress among survivors of head and neck cancer has been relatively understudied, which is one of the reasons why there is a lack of evidence-based treatment. We believe our efforts can help to change that paradigm and improve the lives of these survivors in very meaningful ways.”

Those who enroll in the study will meet via video teleconference with a trained provider who specializes in working with survivors who are adjusting to changes following cancer treatment. Participation in the study takes six hours over a six-week period with all the participation occurring virtually. Patients will complete questionnaires before starting the study and again two, three, six and nine months later. If a study participant does not have a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access, they will be provided an internet-enabled device for the purposes of participation. 

Supported by a $3.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, researchers plan to enroll 200 survivors of head and neck cancer participate in the study. Half of the patients who enroll will receive treatment with the BRIGHT Program. The other half will receive the same type of treatment, but with a broader focus on survivorship. 

“Surviving head and neck cancer is not only a physical journey, but also a mental one,” said Dr. Chang. “Some may find they are adapting to a ‘new normal,’ in which their physical appearance and day-to-day tasks are different than they were before cancer. For many, adapting to these changes is not easy, but we believe a cognitive behavioral therapy-based approach that gives survivors the psychological tools they need to accept these changes can make a world of difference and help them to continue leading fulfilling lives.”

To learn more about the BRIGHT Trial, visit clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05442957

Henry Ford Health: mediarelations@hfhs.org

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center: Lori Palmer / palmelor@musc.edu / 843-792-3622


About Henry Ford Health
Serving communities across Michigan and beyond, Henry Ford Health is committed to partnering with patients and members along their entire health journey. Henry Ford Health provides a full continuum of services – from primary and preventative care, to complex and specialty care, health insurance, a full suite of home health offerings, virtual care, pharmacy, eye care and other healthcare retail.

It is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, recognized for clinical excellence in cancer care, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, and multi-organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the top five NIH-funded institutions in Michigan, Henry Ford Health engages in more than 2,000 research projects annually. Equally committed to educating the next generation of health professionals, Henry Ford Health trains more than 4,000 medical students, residents and fellows every year across 50+ accredited programs.

With more than 33,000 valued team members, Henry Ford Health is also among Michigan’s largest and most diverse employers, including nearly 6,000 physicians and researchers from the Henry Ford Medical Group, Henry Ford Physician Network and Jackson Health Network.

The health system is led by President and CEO Robert G. Riney and serves a growing number of customers across 250+ locations throughout Michigan including five acute care hospitals, two destination facilities for complex cancer and orthopedics and sports medicine care, three behavioral health facilities, primary care and urgent care centers.

About MUSC Hollings Cancer Center
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is South Carolina’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center with the largest academic-based cancer research program in the state. The cancer center comprises more than 130 faculty cancer scientists and 20 academic departments. It has an annual research funding portfolio of more than $44 million and is dedicated to preventing and reducing the cancer burden across South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials across South Carolina. For more information, visit hollingscancercenter.musc.edu.


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