New study analyzes physical therapy for head and neck cancer survivors

Sun, Jun 26, 2016


Author: Andrew J. Roth

The aftermath of treatment for head and neck cancer can be particularly difficult, according to Ann Marie Flores. Flores, assistant professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Movement & Rehabilitation Science, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, conducted a pre-pilot study looking at early physical therapy education for this patient population.

CURE interviewed Flores about her poster, which she presented at the 8th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference in Washington, DC.

Could you first give some background about this study? How did it come to be?
It was a spinoff of some studies that I began in breast cancer. I conducted a literature review of rehab needs of breast cancer survivors about 10 years ago and found that there was very little out there. Then, when I started a rehab oncology program at a previous institution, the patient population that were referred to the program tended to not be breast cancer patients, because they physically and functionally tend to do well in aggregate. Most of my patients referred were those with head and neck cancer. I went through the same process to look through literature critically to figure out what exists in terms of physical therapy and rehabilitation-based approaches. I’ve updated this over a long period of time and this poster is a systematic review of the quality of evidence. I combined this literature and data review with talking to a focus group of cancer survivors.

What did you find?
I asked the focus group if they needed more information and the answer was “Yes!” over and over again. The majority of comments I heard were exactly about physical therapy, self-care and efficacy—things we specialize in. They were also adamant about oral health and dental care, understanding salivary function, tongue motion, muscles and more. We also heard a lot about emotional and social support. So many of these survivors said they felt they were losing their mind because no one around them understood what they were going through after treatment.

It was very interesting to see the concordance of the systematic review results with our focus groups.

What is it about this population that you think creates such a need for information?
Head and neck cancer survivors make up about 4 percent of all cancer survivors. What many of these patients have are multimodality therapies, highly disfiguring surgeries, surgeries that contribute to high rates of disability. Many patients also get chemotherapy and radiation. These survivors can have impairments that can compromise key functions of life—breathing, eating and speaking.

Can these patients get the services they need? Where?
They should be able to, yes. I am a long-standing member of the American Physical Therapy Association and we have a task force that specializes in head and neck studies. We’ve published four studies looking at measuring physical therapy–related impairments that we can rehabilitate, such as shoulder dysfunction, trismus and lymphedema. With trismus, patients can’t open their mouths. Many patients with head and neck cancer have either had muscle tissue removed or have highly scarred jaw muscles. And with lymphedema, you can get that in any part of your body, including the head and neck. Many patients will have lymph fluid collect in the under part of their neck.

For a patient who has finished treatment and facing some of these issues, where should he/she go for support?
As a patient, I’d tell my doctor that I need a referral to a physical therapist. In fact, the next steps following on our research will be to pilot test our patient education materials to determine their clinical feasibility, acceptability, and impact on PT outcomes. We want to ensure that these materials are patient-centered and relevant across the survivorship trajectory.

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HPV vaccination could be offered to schoolboys to decrease risk of cancer

Sun, Jun 26, 2016


Author: Andrew Gregory

A vaccination could soon be offered to every schoolboy to help tackle the rising rate of some cancers in men, a Government minister revealed on Thursday. Health chiefs are poised to drop their opposition to extending the jab to protect against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is already given to all Year 8 girls. The likely move follows growing alarm over cancers of the mouth, throat, neck and head, as well as penile and anal cancer, amid growing evidence that they are caused by HPV.

The NHS (National Health Service) spends more than £300m a year treating head and neck cancers, while giving the vaccine to all boys would cost just £22m, supporters say.

Health Minister Jane Ellison has revealed that the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) is investigating the change, with its verdict due early next year. Mrs Ellison – who has previously described giving the HPV jab to girls only as “a little odd” – said: “I understand the wish for it to be available to all adolescents regardless of gender.

“The JCVI is reconsidering its initial advice on this and modeling is under way to inform its consideration. We will look at that as a priority when we get it.

“I recognize the frustration that people have expressed and I have talked personally to Public Health England officials who are involved in the modelling work.”

The minister said money was already available to extend the vaccination program if the JCVI said yes, adding: “The Government have always acted on its recommendations.” The looming move comes after a Commons debate heard that men are six times more likely than women to have an oral HPV infection – yet they are not vaccinated.

Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford , a part-time dentist himself, said up to 70% of throat cancers are caused by HPV, adding: “The statistics make for hideous reading.”

HPV is also linked to around 80% of anal cancer in men, almost half of penile cancers and is responsible for nine out of 10 cases of genital warts. A national vaccination program HPV was introduced for 12 and 13-year-old girls as long ago as 2008, to prevent cervical cancer.

But experts agree the program does not create sufficient “herd immunity”, prompting a recent decision to begin a trial to give the jab to some gay men. Around 40,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) will be vaccinated, targeting under-45s who attend sexual advice clinics.

A campaign group called HPV Action has called for all boys to be vaccinated as soon as possible – warning 367,000 are at risk of developing a preventable disease in later life, for every year of delay.

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Broccoli sprout extract may help prevent cancer recurrence in head and neck cancer survivors

Sun, Jun 26, 2016


Author: staff

Potent doses of broccoli sprout extract activate a “detoxification” gene and may help prevent cancer recurrence in survivors of head and neck cancer, according to a trial by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, partner with UPMC CancerCenter, confirming preliminary results presented last year at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting.

It is the first study demonstrating that the extract protects against oral cancer, with the results of human, animal and laboratory tests reported today in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. This research is funded through Pitt’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant in head and neck cancer from the National Cancer Institute.

“With head and neck cancer, we often clear patients of cancer only to see it come back with deadly consequences a few years later,” said lead author Julie Bauman, M.D., M.P.H., co-director of the UPMC Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence. “Unfortunately, previous efforts to develop a preventative drug to reduce this risk have been inefficient, intolerable in patients and expensive. That led us to ‘green chemoprevention’–the cost-effective development of treatments based upon whole plants or their extracts.”

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and garden cress, have a high concentration of the naturally occurring molecular compound sulforaphane, which previously has been shown to protect people against environmental carcinogens.

Dr. Bauman and her colleagues treated human head and neck cancer cells in the laboratory with varying doses of sulforaphane and a control, and compared them to normal, healthy cells that line the throat and mouth. The sulforaphane induced both types of cells to increase their levels of a protein that turns on genes that promote detoxification of carcinogens, like those found in cigarettes, and protect cells from cancer.

Dr. Bauman also collaborated with senior author Daniel E. Johnson, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Pitt and a senior scientist in the UPCI Head and Neck Cancer Program, to see how the extract performed in mice predisposed to head and neck cancer. The mice who received the sulforaphane developed far fewer tumors than their counterparts who did not receive the extract.

The results of the mouse, human and lab studies have been so successful that Dr. Bauman has started a larger clinical trial in volunteers previously cured of head and neck cancer. These participants are taking capsules containing broccoli seed powder, which is more convenient to take regularly than the extract mixed with juice.

“Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the U.S., but that burden is far greater in many developing countries,” said Dr. Bauman. “A preventative drug created from whole plants or their extracts may ease the costs of production and distribution, and ultimately have a huge positive impact on mortality and quality of life in people around the world.”

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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Rodeo rider partners with nonprofit group to fight smokeless tobacco use

Wed, Jun 22, 2016


Author: Rebecca Cade

SALT LAKE CITY — Oral cancer is becoming an epidemic in the U.S., and has been in the news in the last year with the loss of major league baseball hall-of-famer, Tony Gwynn, who died at 54 from smokeless tobacco use.

Rodeo has a historic tie to smokeless tobaccos, and Oral Cancer Foundation, has teamed up with Bareback Rider Cody Kiser to draw awareness to, and prevent, this growing epidemic where it thrives – the rodeo circuit.

Smokeless/spit tobacco is one of the historic causes of deadly oral cancers, and is more addictive than other forms of tobacco use.

The nonprofit is seeking to spread awareness of oral cancer and the dangers of starting terrible tobacco habits. While others are focused on getting users to quit, The Oral Cancer Foundation is reaching out to young people to not pick up the habit that they may see one of their rodeo “heroes” engage in.

Their message is simple, “Be Smart. Don’t Start.”

With the strong addictive powers of smokeless tobacco, the foundation and Kiser aim to engage fans early.

At the rodeos, Kiser will be solely wearing OCF logos and wording, while handing out buttons, wristbands and bandanas with the campaign messaging on them. The bareback rider hopes this will make him an alternative positive role-model for the adolescent age group whose minds are so easily molded.

“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, so when I got into the partnership with OCF, it was no big deal to be able to say ‘I don’t smoke or chew, never have, and it’s easy not to,'” Kiser said.

Kiser added it all starts with kids.

“Most of these guys I ride with started smoking and chewing in sixth or seventh grade,” he said. “So, if we can get to those kids now, and tell them ‘you don’t have to do this to be cool or be a cowboy’ and show them what you can do without it.”

More information on the campaign can be found at

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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Reno Rodeo: Cody Kiser ‘The luckiest guy in the world’

Mon, Jun 20, 2016


Author: Jordan Wines


2016 Reno Rodeo competitor Cody Kiser has been competing in rodeos from the time he could walk.

He began his career riding sheep and roping dummy heads on hay bales. As he grew, so did his competitive spirit. Kiser began riding bulls, but suffered an injury early in his career.

“I had a bull step on my face, and I broke all the bones in the left side of my face,” Kiser said. “I broke my jaw in two places and had my jaw wired shut. I had to get plastic surgery on my face to get it put back together.”

After recovering, Kiser began riding bucking horses, bareback specifically. He continued to compete while attending college at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he completed his degree in civil engineering. Splitting time between school and his life on the rodeo circuit presented its own set of challenges.

“I did college rodeo for about two years, and I loved it. It just became way too much doing rodeo and school. I would put all my effort into schoolwork during the semester, and then would try to hit a couple of rodeos during school. During summer, I wouldn’t take any classes, and I would hit the rodeo as hard as I could, which was still difficult because I had internships and jobs over the summer.”

Riding bareback is more than just an event for Kiser, as his father also rode bareback competitively, and Kiser still uses some of the same equipment his father used.

“When I first started, I started using all of his stuff from when he rode, which was pretty wild, and I actually still wear his spurs. I believe a friend of his made them for him, and I still ride with those spurs, and that is really cool.”

Speaking with Kiser, you can see the people in his life are a big part of the reason he loves doing rodeo. After competing in one form or another for almost 25 years, Kiser said that his favorite rodeo memory was from Friday night, when he had, in his own words, a terrible ride.

“I rode terribly, but I had almost 150 people here to cheer me on.” Kiser said. He had extended family and friends, people that he works out with at his gym in Carson, and all of the people that his mom brought with her. “I’m not happy about how I rode, but I’m going to make up for that (Saturday).”

Being a part of the rodeo opened up a lot of opportunities for Kiser, as he now serves as a spokesmen for the Oral Cancer Foundation,

During all of his events, Kiser wears an embroidered shirt with the OCF logo on it. He became involved with the charity in college, when a girl from an engineering class knew that he competed in rodeo events, and asked him if he smoked or chewed. Things progressed quickly from there, with Kiser now serving as a spokesmen for the OCF, the first spokesmen to be affiliated with rodeo.

“It started as this very small thing, sort of sit back and see how it goes,” he said. “It sort of blew up, and has been doing really well. I get to interact with kids and people, and get the word out about the foundation and things, and now people are starting to recognize the oral cancer foundation patch and things when I go to rodeos.”

Kiser and the OCF are promoting a message of prevention, focusing on educating younger spectators of the sport. “What I do for them is go around to the rodeos, and just  try to do outreach to the kids, between 8 and 9 years old, maybe a little younger, all the way up to 18, high school and college age. Just trying to get out there and let them know that you don’t have to smoke or chew to be a cowboy, or be cool. I am out there to be a role model and to show them what you can do when you don’t smoke or chew.”

Participating in the rodeo also landed Kiser on a Hollywood film set, as Kiser worked as a stunt double for Bradley Cooper during the rodeo scenes in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper.” Kiser is extremely humble about the experience, but is open to appearing in more films in the future.

“I got to go and do this stunt for Clint Eastwood, and Bradley Cooper, I got to meet both of them and do this thing with them, and they were both the nicest guys, they walked up to me and shook my hand and introduced themselves as if I didn’t know who they were, and they were awesome guys and awesome people to work with. It was only a one day deal, and I wish I could have done more. I haven’t done anything recently like that, and I am really looking forward to maybe doing some more.”

As of Saturday, Kiser is fifth in the bareback standings. While his chances of making it to next week’s championships are slim, he isn’t going to let that stop him from going into the arena and having a blast.

“Tonight, I’m just having fun, and letting it all hang out. I’m going to go to town, have fun. I know what the horse is like, and I know what I am capable of.”

No matter the outcome of the event, Kiser is thankful for the experiences he has had while competing in this sport, and knows that rodeo has completely changed the course of his life. “Rodeo has made me who I am today, Family, community, discipline, hard work, all of those things come out of rodeo. And I can relate to so many life experiences and things to rodeo that I have been through and it is just unreal.”

If you are interested in helping the Oral Cancer Foundation, you can find Kiser on social media, or visit

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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Number of circulating tumor cells up after surgery in SCCHN

Sat, Jun 18, 2016


Author: staff

Most patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) have an increase in the number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) after surgical resection, according to a study published online June 5 in Head & Neck.

Kris R. Jatana, M.D., from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues identified cytokeratin-positive CTCs using a negative depletion technique. They compared the numbers of CTCs immediately before and after surgical resection using blood samples from 38 patients with SCCHN.

The researchers found that 79 percent of patients had CTCs before and after surgery. Overall, 7.89 percent of patients had no CTCs before surgery but did have CTCs after surgery. After surgery there was an increased number of CTCs/mL in 60.5 percent of patients, with a 6.63-fold mean increase (P = 0.02).

“The timing of blood sample collection for such solid cancers that undergo surgical intervention, such as SCCHN, can potentially impact the number of CTCs identified,” the authors write. “Although a prognostic blood test for CTCs could have important treatment and surveillance implications, the viability and clinical significance of potentially surgically released CTCs in SCCHN is still not known.”

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ASCO 2016: Can you stand the excitement?

Sat, Jun 18, 2016


Author: Craig R. Hildreth, MD

Having trained in the era of big chemotherapy, I am inspired to finally see the increasing role of immuno-oncology (I-O) agents in the treatment of cancer, and the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting was loaded with fascinating updates on this subject. Trying to keep up with developments in 2016 is like trying to learn all the new species on Earth—no sooner do we memorize Clarias gracilentus (“walking catfish”), then someone discovers Leptobrachium leucops (“yin-yang frog”). If anyone has found an easy way to keep all the new I-O agents on the tip of one’s tongue, please let me know.

As a non-scientist I find it helpful to think of cytotoxic T lymphocytes as highly trained assassins of malignant cells, with I-O therapies designed to assist them in their quest. So, what did we learn this year?

  1. 1. We can shield our assassins from discovery by the enemy. Checkpoint inhibition—is there no end to its utilization? Look at the results from KEYNOTE-055, where the anti–PD-1 antibody pembrolizumab was active against head and neck cancer, or CheckMate 067, where the combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab had a 72% response rate in melanoma, or CheckMate 032, where patients with previously treated small-cell lung cancer had a 43% 1-year survival with nivolumab and ipilimumab. Don’t forget that the new anti–PD-L1 antibody atezolizumab was just approved—for bladder cancer, of all things.
    Caveat: Checkpoint inhibitors are ultra-expensive, and combinations carry a high risk of toxicity.
  2. We can arm our assassins with savage toxins. The antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine (not to be confused with Phyllopteryx dewysea, or “ruby seadragon”) attaches to DLL3, a protein found on 80% of small-cell lung cancers and, when internalized, detaches the extremely toxic DNA-damaging compound tesirine, which otherwise cannot be infused directly into the bloodstream. For another example of this strategy, see Homer’s The Iliad. The overall response rate, by the way, is 18%.
    Caveat: The response rate for patients with at least 50% DLL3 expression was much higher, so do we limit this conjugate to high expressors only?
  3. We can breed and launch an armada of assassins. It is no longer insane to suggest that certain hematologic malignancies are going to be cured in our children’s lifetimes. Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T) genetically modifies, grows, and then reinfuses billions of lymphocytes designed to attack and destroy cells harboring the CD19 antigen. Look at abstract 102, from Seattle, where 94% of patients with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia achieved a complete remission with CAR-T. To read the words “durable complete remission” in a study is mind-blowing. Somewhere, I bet Sidney Farber and Emil Frei are smiling.
    Caveat: CAR-T therapy can induce neurotoxicity and high-grade cytokine release syndrome.

If I was a cancer cell, I might understand how the Nazis felt after the D-Day invasion: “Our plans for dominion seem to have failed to impress the opposition.” That’s right—just as in Normandy, there is no turning back now. With the advent of immuno-oncology, we can only hope that someday cancer will be just like the primate Pliobates cataloniae, extinct for 11 million years.

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Aspen Dental Practices Donate More Than $20,000 To The Oral Cancer Foundation For Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Thu, Jun 16, 2016


Author: Aspen Dental

SYRACUSE, N.Y., May 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Aspen Dental–branded practices will donate $22,375 to The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) as part of a program that contributed $5 for each ViziLite® oral cancer screening conducted during April for Oral Cancer Awareness Month. In total, more than 4,000 patients were screened across more than 550 practices in 33 states.

Since 2010, Aspen Dental-branded practices have donated more than $105,000 to OCF.

“Approximately 48,250 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with an oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year; and of those only about 57% will be alive in five years,” said Natalie Riggs, Director of Special Projects for The Oral Cancer Foundation. In 2016 we estimate that 9500 individuals will lose their lives to oral cancers and we are grateful for the support from Aspen Dental practices in helping us raise awareness and aiding in our efforts to fight this disease.”

Oral cancer is frequently preceded by visible pre-malignant lesions and can be diagnosed at a much earlier stage (I or II) with ViziLite® Plus, a specially designed light technology.  When caught early and treated, the survival rate is 80 to 90 percent.

“We’re working to educate our patients about the risk factors, warning signs and symptoms associated with oral cancer so that we can help them catch the disease before it progresses,” said Dr. Murali Lakireddy, a general dentist who owns Aspen Dental offices in Ohio. “Many of our patients do not think about oral cancer when they go to the dentist, but in fact, oral cancer screenings are just as much a part of your routine dental visit as a deep clean from the hygienist.”

To learn more about oral cancer screenings, visit the OFC website at

About Aspen Dental Practices
Dentists and staff at Aspen Dental practices believe everyone has the right to quality, affordable oral health care. As one of the largest and fastest-growing networks of independent dental care providers in the U.S., local Aspen Dental practices – more than 550 of them across 33 states – offer patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to address their dental challenges. Every Aspen Dental-branded practice offers a full range of dental and denture services – including comprehensive exams, cleanings, extractions, fillings, periodontal treatment, whitening, oral surgery, crown and bridge work – allowing patients to have the peace of mind that they are taken care of and protected, so they can focus on getting the healthy mouth they deserve. In 2015, Aspen Dental-branded practices recorded more than 3.7 million patient visits and welcomed nearly 785,000 new patients.

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Nivolumab Demonstrated Survival Benefit, Good Tolerance in Refractory HNSCC

Tue, Jun 7, 2016


Author: Tim Donald, ELS

In the phase III comparative CheckMate 141 trial, nivolumab demonstrated a “significant improval in survival” in patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), compared with therapy of the investigator’s choice, according to Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, FACS, of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (Abstract 6009). There were fewer treatment-related adverse events with the PD-1 inhibitor than with investigator’s choice therapy, Dr. Ferris said, and nivolumab stabilized patient-reported quality-of-life outcome measures, whereas the investigator’s choice therapy led to meaningful declines in function and worsening of symptoms.

AM16.6009-Ferris2Dr. Robert L. Ferris

“Nivolumab is a new standard-of-care option for patients with refractory or metastatic HNSCC after platinum-based therapy,” Dr. Ferris said.

Dr. Ferris presented the trial results at the “Harnessing the Immune System in Head and Neck Cancer: Evolving Standards in Metastatic Disease” Clinical Science Symposium on June 6. He noted that in this trial of patients whose disease had progressed after platinum-based therapy, nivolumab doubled the 1-year overall survival (OS) rate, with 36.0% OS for the immunotherapeutic drug compared with 16.6% for the investigator’s choice therapy. These top-line results were presented at the 2016 American Association of Cancer Research meeting1; Dr. Ferris presented data the additional endpoints of quality of life, correlative biomarkers, and safety.

There is an extremely poor prognosis for patients with platinum-refractory recurrent or metastatic HNSCC, with median OS of 6 months or fewer. Previous research, by Dr. Ferris and others, has shown that HNSCC can express T-cell suppressive ligands, such as PD-L1, thereby evading host immune response. PD-L1 is frequently expressed on HNSCC cells, both HPV-positive and -negative.

The phase III CheckMate 141 study enrolled patients with HNSCC aged 18 and older with ECOG status 0 or 1, and with disease progression within 6 months after the most recent dose of platinum-based therapy. Patients were enrolled regardless of PD-L1 status and irrespective of number of previous lines of therapy. Immunohistochemistry testing for p16 was performed to determine HPV status. Patients were randomly assigned 2:1 to nivolumab (3 mg/kg intravenous [IV] every 2 weeks) or investigator’s choice of single-agent therapy with methotrexate (40 mg/m² IV weekly), docetaxel (30 mg/m² IV weekly), or cetuximab (400 mg/m² IV once, then 250 mg/m² weekly).

OS was compared between arms and by PD-L1 expression and HPV (p16) status. Nivolumab demonstrated a survival benefit in the overall study population, regardless of PD-L1 expression or p16 status, Dr. Ferris said. The magnitude of the OS benefit of nivolumab was greater in patients expressing PD-L1 at 1% or more (HR 0.55, 95% CI [0.36, 0.83]) compared with those expressing PD-L1 at less than 1% (HR 0.89, 95% CI [0.54, 1.45]). However, increasing levels of PD-L1 expression ( ≥ 5%, ≥ 10%) did not result in further OS benefit.

The OS benefit was greater with nivolumab than investigator’s choice therapy in both patients who were p16 positive (HR 0.56, 95% CI [0.32, 0.99]) and p16 negative (HR 0.73, 95% CI [0.42, 1.25]). When OS was analyzed for both PD-L1 expression and p16 status, the hazard ratios favored nivolumab for all subgroups.

Treatment-related adverse events of any grade were lower in the nivolumab arm (58.9%) than the investigator’s choice therapy arm (77.5%). Serious (grade 3 or 4) treatment-related adverse events were also lower in the nivolumab arm (13.1%) than in the investigator’s choice therapy arm (35.1%). Patient-reported outcome measures for quality of life were assessed based on two EORTC scales. Treatment with nivolumab stabilized the outcome measures of physical function, social function, absence of sensory problems, and absence of trouble with social contact, whereas the investigator’s choice therapy led to meaningful declines in function and worsening of symptoms.

AM16.6009-Uppaluri_0Dr. Ravindra Uppaluri

Discussant Ravindra Uppaluri, MD, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine, said that the CheckMate 141 trial “continues to highlight the use of PD-L1 status as a stratifier.” The trial results “offer hope for patients with refractory or metastatic HNSCC,” he said. “Obviously better biomarkers are needed, and, ultimately, a composite immune profile may be required.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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South Florida biotech company launches oral cancer screening test

Sun, Jun 5, 2016


Author: Debora Lima

The world’s first oral cancer screening test will debut Friday, courtesy of a Fort Lauderdale biotech company. Vigilant Biosciences, a developer of medical tools in the field of oncology, will unveil the OncAlert Labs OraMark Test at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.

The OraMark oral rinse test is a quantitative method capable of detecting cells responsible for oral cancer at their earliest stages. The sample is sent to Vigilant Biosciences-affiliated OncAlert Labs, where it is tested for a protein that indicates the beginnings of oral cancer.

Oral screening tests are typically performed by dentists who use sight and touch to detect cancer-related lesions or trauma. Prior to the OraMark test, no laboratory-developed tests existed, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“We view this as a transformative moment,” said Vigilant Biosciences CEO Matthew Kim.

It will be available to medical specialists, such as oral surgeons and oncologists, beginning in the second half of 2016.

The OraMark is offered by OncAlert Labs, which are certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. CLIA are federal regulatory standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The test was developed as a result of over a decade of medical research that preceded Vigilant Biosciences, which was founded in 2011 and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2014, Kim said.

“We are proud to provide for an unmet need for early detection that has gone unanswered for decades,” Kim said.

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