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Medical Grade Honey Found Not Effective in Radiation Esophagitis

Mon, Sep 22, 2014

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Source: medscape.com
Author: Pam Harrison
 

SAN FRANCISCO ― A medical grade honey from New Zealand (Manuka), which is known to be effective in wound healing, does not reduce pain from radiation esophagitis more effectively than standard supportive care, phase 2 research shows.

“Reducing esophagitis is important so that patients can continue eating their normal diet,” Lawrence Berk, MD, chief of radiation oncology, Morsani School of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, told Medscape Medicine News.

“And since there is no proven treatment for the prevention of esophagitis during concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, we decided to try honey, because of the reported success in head and neck mucositis in several small studies.

“And neither liquid honey nor honey lozenges worked better than standard supportive care in reducing pain from esophagitis, so I would not encourage patients to take Manuka honey, because it didn’t work and it’s expensive.”

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology, held in San Francisco, California.

Investigators included 163 lung cancer patients who were undergoing concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Approximately 30% of patients had received 60 Gy of radiation to the esophagus.

Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment arms: 56 patients received standard supportive care; 53 patients received 10 mL of Manuka honey orally, 4 times a day; and 54 patients received 1 lozenge consisting of 10 mL of dehydrated Manuka honey, 4 times per day.

The honey was taken on the first day of treatment and continued to be taken throughout the course of radiation therapy.

After 4 weeks of treatment, patients were asked to assess pain during swallowing using the Numerical Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) scale. Zero on the NPRS scale indicates no pain, 5 indicates moderate pain, and 10 indicates worst possible pain.

No patients in the standard supportive care arm developed grade 3 or higher adverse events (AEs) related to the treatment protocol, whereas 11 patients in the liquid honey arm did, as did 2 patients in the honey lozenges group.

At the end of 4 weeks of radiation therapy, the mean change in the NPRS score was 2.7 in the standard supportive care group vs 2.1 for both groups who took either the liquid or lozenge form of Manuka honey, a difference that was not statistically significant.

There was also no difference between the 3 groups in secondary endpoints, including trend of pain over time, opioid use, AEs, weight loss, or quality-of-life measurements.

Previous Studies With Local Honey

The previous studies showing that honey decreased head and neck mucositis were small, randomized trials carried out in Malaysia, Egypt, Nepal, and Iran, and they all used locally produced honey, Dr Berk noted.

However, another study (Support Care Cancer. 2014;22:751-61) conducted in Canada, which used Manuka honey, found no significant impact on the severity of radiation-induced mucositis in head and neck cancer patients. Furthermore, patients did not tolerate the honey well.

A British study (Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012;50:221-6) again found that Manuka honey did not improve mucositis in head and neck cancer patients, although the reserachers noted that it did seem to be associated with a reduction in bacterial infections.

“Studies with natural products are difficult to do because compounds vary from batch to batch, and the honey will depend on what flowers the bees pollinated,” Dr. Berk said.

“The reason we chose Manuka honey is that it is widely available and it’s a well-studied, well-quantified honey, and it’s pretty much the only honey there that is well defined.

“But it’s pretty clear from 3 studies now that Manuka honey has no effect, and currently, there are no proven methods of preventing radiation esophagitis except minimizing the dose of radiation, which we frequently have to do,” he said.

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

 

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AACR says that new drug may assist therapy for Head and Neck Cancer

Mon, Sep 22, 2014

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Source: hcplive.com
Author: 
 

THURSDAY, Sept. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The investigational drug alpelisib (previously known as BYL719) appears to inhibit activation of the pathway that leads to resistance to cetuximab, an anti-epidermal growth factor receptor agent used in the treatment of head and neck cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s special conference “Targeting the PI3K-mTOR Network in Cancer,” held from Sept. 14 to 17 in Philadelphia.

Pamela Munster, MD, of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues tested the combination of BYL719 and cetuximab in vivo in a cetuximab-sensitive and a cetuximab-resistant xenograft model of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. In a phase Ib study, BYL719 was administered in combination with cetuximab in adults with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck that was resistant or intolerant to platinum-based chemotherapy; prior cetuximab therapy was allowed.

The researchers found that the addition of BYL719 to cetuximab showed an additive effect in the cetuximab-sensitive model. BYL719 restored sensitivity to cetuximab in the cetuximab-resistant model. In the phase Ib study, as of March 10, 2014, 37 patients have received BYL719 and cetuximab, and the overall response rate is 11%. Based on the data from preclinical studies and the phase Ib study, the combination of alpelisib and cetuximab for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is being explored in a phase II study.

“Treatment resistance is often conveyed through activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, and alpelisib is an inhibitor of this pathway,” Munster said in a statement.

The study was funded by Novartis, the developer of alpelisib (BYL719).

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
 
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Many head and neck cancer patients can avoid neck surgery

Thu, Sep 18, 2014

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Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: Staff
 

A new study shows that patients with human papillomavirus (HPV) – the same virus associated with both cervical and head and neck cancer – positive oropharyngeal cancer see significantly higher rates of complete response on a post-radiation neck dissection than those with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer. Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers presented the findings at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 56th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, September 17.

“For patients that achieve a complete response, neck surgery is probably unnecessary,” says Thomas J. Galloway, MD, Attending Physician and Director of Clinical Research at Fox Chase and lead author on the study.

After radiation and chemotherapy to remove tumors from the tonsils or back of the tongue, many head and neck cancer patients still have persistent lumps in their neck, albeit perhaps smaller than when they were first diagnosed. “The question is: Do we need to remove those lumps, as well, or can we just let them dissolve on their own?” asks Dr. Galloway.

To investigate, he and his colleagues reviewed the medical records from 396 patients whose oropharyngeal tumors had spread to at least one lymph node. Within 180 days after completing radiation therapy, 146 patients underwent neck surgery. For 99 patients, their records indicated whether or not their tumors had likely been triggered by HPV.

Interestingly, patients with HPV often respond better to treatment for their oropharyngeal tumors than those without. The researchers noted the same trend here – people who tested positive for HPV (measured by the presence of a protein called p16) were less likely to have a recurrence of their cancers, regardless of whether or not the tumors had completely disappeared following treatment. Indeed, patients’ HPV status was the strongest predictor of whether or not they were alive at the end of the study.

Among the patients who underwent neck surgery, any lingering bumps were more likely to be benign if patients were infected with HPV. “The bump might have become a permanent scar, or in some cases, it would have eventually disappeared,” says Dr. Galloway.

Currently, it is not routine to consider a patients’ HPV status before making the decision to perform neck surgery (the decision is based on physical examination and imaging studies), which can cause problems in the shoulder and neck, including swallowing, says Dr. Galloway; these findings suggest they should. “There’s good reason to avoid neck surgery if we can.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
 
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Update on head and neck cancers, HPV: creating public awareness

Wed, Sep 17, 2014

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Source: www.dentistryiq.com
Author: Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

Public awareness of head and neck cancer (HNC) is limited, with the lack of awareness including the term head and neck cancer and common symptoms and risk factors, such as tobacco use and human papillomavirus (HPV).1 The online survey of 2,126 randomly selected adults in the United States. Most respondents lacked understanding of the organs or tissues affected by head and neck cancer, with 21% incorrectly identifying brain cancer as head and neck cancer. Only 0.8% of respondents identified HPV infection as a risk factor for mouth and throat cancer, but more were aware of the vaccine.

The investigators projected that extensive HPV vaccination could prevent almost 9,000 cases of oropharyngeal cancer yearly. The conclusion was that self-reported and objective measures indicate that few American adults know much about HNC including risk factors such as tobacco use and HPV infection and common symptoms. Strategies to improve public awareness and knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors may decrease the disease burden of HNC and are important topics for future research. The American Dental Association has a pamphlet titled “Get the Facts About Mouth and Throat Cancer.”2

ADAbrochuremsh

Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) is a major contributory factor in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). The detection of primary OPSCC is often delayed due to the complicated anatomy of the oropharynx. One study examined the possibility of HPV-16 DNA detection in pretreatment and posttreatment plasma and saliva and its possible role as a marker of prognosis.3 A retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected cohort of patients with oropharyngeal and unknown primary squamous cell carcinoma with known HPV-16 tumor status was conducted. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to identify HPV-16 E6 and E7 DNA in saliva and plasma samples.

HPV Virus

HPV Virus

The conclusion of the authors is that use of a combination of pretreatment plasma and saliva can increase the sensitivity of pretreatment HPV-16 status as a tool for screening patients with HPV-16–positive OPSCC. Also, analysis of HPV-16 DNA in saliva and plasma after primary treatment may make it easier to detect recurrence in patients with HPV-16–positive OPSCC at an earlier stage.

cervarix

HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, and a very small number of front of the mouth, oral cavity cancers. HPV16 is the version most responsible, and affects both males and females. It is a sexually transmitted disease, and while there is no cure, it can be prevented. Practicing safe sex is one way, and vaccination is another way. Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, protect against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancers (HPV16 and 18). Garadsil also protects against two versions that cause genital warts (HPV6 and 11). Millions of young girls in the United States and in developed countries around the world have been safely vaccinated with an HPV vaccine.4

For more information, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation, or the Oral Cancer Cause (OCC).4,5 “OCC’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for oral cancer patients through financial support so that they may face the world with peace and dignity during and after medical treatment.”5

Oral mucositis is a common complication of cancer chemotherapy, whether for head and neck or other cancers, and is often present after radiation for head and neck cancer. The purpose of one study was to compare the beneficial effects of treatment modalities, including topical steroid, honey, and honey plus coffee, in patients suffering from oral mucositis.6 The results showed that all three treatment regimens reduce the severity of lesions. The best reduction in severity was achieved in the honey plus coffee group. The honey group and topical steroid group took the second and third places. While further study is encouraged, the honey plus coffee regimen was the most effective modality for the treatment of oral mucositis in this study.

Another study found that treating cancer with bacteria shows real promise.7 They directly injected Clostridium novyi, a common bacteria species that does not need oxygen to survive, into tumors in a small study. It shrunk or eliminated tumors and possibly bolstered the immune system to continue targeting tumor cells for up to two years.

Maybe one day we will be able to cure cancer!!


References

  1. Luryi AL, Yarbrough WG, Niccolai LM, Roser S, Reed SG, Nathan CA, Moore MG, Day T, and Judson BL. Public awareness of head and neck cancers: a cross-sectional survey. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 Jul 1;140 (7):639-46. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2014.867.
  2. http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/june/raise-awareness-of-mouth-and-throat-cancer-among-patients-with-ada-brochure.
  3. Ahn SM, Chan JK, Zhang Z, et al. Saliva and Plasma Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction–Based Detection and Surveillance of Human Papillomavirus–Related Head and Neck Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online July 31, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.1338.
  4. http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/hpv/hpv-oral-cancer-facts.php.
  5. http://oralcancercause.org/.
  6. Raeessi MA, Raeessi N, Panahi Y, et al. “Coffee plus Honey” versus “topical steroid” in the treatment of Chemotherapy-induced Oral Mucositis: a randomised controlled trial BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:293. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/14/293.
  7. Roberts NJ, Zhang L, Janku F, et al. Intratumoral injection of Clostridium novyi-NT spores induces antitumor responses. Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 249ra111 (2014).

 

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Many throat cancer patients can skip neck surgery

Wed, Sep 17, 2014

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Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: Fox Chase Cancer Center

A new study shows that patients with human papillomavirus (HPV) – the same virus associated with both cervical and head and neck cancer – positive oropharyngeal cancer see significantly higher rates of complete response on a post-radiation neck dissection than those with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer. Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers presented the findings at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 56th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, September 17.

“For patients that achieve a complete response, neck surgery is probably unnecessary,” says Thomas J. Galloway, MD, Attending Physician and Director of Clinical Research at Fox Chase and lead author on the study.

After radiation and chemotherapy to remove tumors from the tonsils or back of the tongue, many head and neck cancer patients still have persistent lumps in their neck, albeit perhaps smaller than when they were first diagnosed. “The question is: Do we need to remove those lumps, as well, or can we just let them dissolve on their own?” asks Dr. Galloway.

To investigate, he and his colleagues reviewed the medical records from 396 patients whose oropharyngeal tumors had spread to at least one lymph node. Within 180 days after completing radiation therapy, 146 patients underwent neck surgery. For 99 patients, their records indicated whether or not their tumors had likely been triggered by HPV.

Interestingly, patients with HPV often respond better to treatment for their oropharyngeal tumors than those without. The researchers noted the same trend here – people who tested positive for HPV (measured by the presence of a protein called p16) were less likely to have a recurrence of their cancers, regardless of whether or not the tumors had completely disappeared following treatment. Indeed, patients’ HPV status was the strongest predictor of whether or not they were alive at the end of the study.

Among the patients who underwent neck surgery, any lingering bumps were more likely to be benign if patients were infected with HPV. “The bump might have become a permanent scar, or in some cases, it would have eventually disappeared,” says Dr. Galloway.

Currently, it is not routine to consider a patients’ HPV status before making the decision to perform neck surgery (the decision is based on physical examination and imaging studies), which can cause problems in the shoulder and neck, including swallowing, says Dr. Galloway; these findings suggest they should. “There’s good reason to avoid neck surgery if we can.”

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Targeted radiation, drug therapy combo less toxic for recurrent head, neck cancers

Wed, Sep 17, 2014

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Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Patients with a recurrence of head and neck cancer who have previously received radiation treatment can be treated more quickly, safely and with fewer side effects with high doses of targeted radiation known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in combination with a drug that also carefully targets cancerous tumors. These findings from a UPMC CancerCenter study were presented today at the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in San Francisco.

SBRT uses concentrated radiation beams in high doses to destroy tumors in difficult or hard-to-reach areas. The treatment is noninvasive, which minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. Clinicians at UPMC CancerCenter, partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), used SBRT in combination with the drug cetuximab for patients who had a recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck after going through radiation.

“The prognosis for patients who have a recurrence of head and neck cancer that cannot be surgically removed is already poor. Traditional treatments can be associated with significant side effects so severe that patients give up on the therapy altogether,” said Dwight E. Heron, M.D., vice chairman of radiation oncology at UPCI and director of Radiation Oncology Services at UPMC CancerCenter. “By taking these patients through an abbreviated course of targeted drug and SBRT, we minimize the side effects of treatment.”

Doctors treated 48 patients with the combination therapy between July 2007 and March 2013. All of the patients were able to complete the treatments, which were administered in a span of about two weeks compared to traditional therapies which can take up to nine weeks. Severe toxicity was reported at 12 percent using the combination therapy, compared to upwards of 85 percent using conventional therapies.

“The good news here is that we improved their quality of life and did it safely,” said John Vargo, M.D., a radiation oncology resident at UPMC CancerCenter and one of the lead authors of the study.

“Unfortunately, outcomes using this approach are still challenging so the next part of our research will concentrate on continuing to find ways to improve outcomes by integrating additional novel systemic agents.”

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The Debate Over E-Cigarettes Begins

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

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Source: TIME.com
Author: Mandy Oaklander
 

The debate over the safety of e-cigarettes, and whether they will help smokers to quit, or simply make it easier for them to start or continue lighting up, heated up this week.

On one side of the disagreement are those pushing for regulation. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) began a review of data on e-cigarettes and based on studies conducted so far, last month recommended tighter regulation of the devices to protect consumers’ health. But in a new article published in the journal Addiction, other scientists argue that the WHO misinterpreted the data in a “misleading” way and that the group’s advice for more stringent oversight is problematic.

In the Addiction paper, the authors take issue with nine of WHO’s conclusions, some of which surround the safety of e-cigarettes, their toxin levels, and how likely younger people are to adopt them. They cite some of the same data as the original WHO review did, but interpret it differently, arguing that the benefits of e-cigarettes, especially as an effective tool in helping some smokers to quit, outweigh potential risks from the chemicals and nicotine used in the devices. Therefore, they say, e-cigarettes should be more accessible than the WHO recommendations would allow.

“…The WHO’s approach will make it harder to bring these products to market than tobacco products, inhibit innovation and put off smokers from using e-cigarettes, putting us in danger of foregoing the public health benefits these products could have,” said Ann McNeill, lead author of the paper and professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London, in a press release. They’re not the only ones who have pushed back against the recommendations. More than 50 experts in public health signed a letter calling for a lighter approach, reported the New York Times.

Why the opposing interpretations of the same data? E-cigarettes are so new that research hasn’t had a chance to catch up with their meteoric rise in popularity. Some of the data based on earlier models of the devices, for example, might not even apply to e-cigs as we know them today, since the product has evolved so rapidly. The body of research is small. And because the devices are so new, much of it is funded by e-cigarette manufacturers.

In the latest paper in Addiction, for example, some of the work by one of the heavily-cited authors of the paper was conducted with funding from the e-cigarette industry.

On the first page in the “competing interests” section, the article discloses the following about Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece:

Some studies performed by KF were carried out using funds provided to his institution (Onassis
Cardiac Surgery Center) by e-cigarette companies.

In the paper’s 45 references, Farsalinos is listed as an author in nine of them; it’s unknown which of those studies were conducted with the help of e-cigarette funding.

It’s not uncommon for someone who makes a product to then sponsor research on that product, and it doesn’t mean the findings are worthless, says Steven Schroeder, a professor in the department of medicine and head of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. (Schroeder does not conduct research on e-cigarettes.) But it also doesn’t mean the results are entirely objective, either. The potential for bias leads journal editors such as those at the peer-reviewed Addiction to require conflict disclosures from both its authors and its senior editorial staff.

It’s not clear yet whether e-cigarettes will turn out to hurt or help smokers. It’s probable that they will contribute to a range of health effects, both positive — as a smoking cessation device — and negative — as a potential gateway to tobacco-based cigarettes or other drugs. The evidence, at the moment, points in both directions.

 

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy. 
 
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HPV vaccine: Why boys are less likely to get it

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

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Source: http://topnews.us/
Author: Prakash Sharma

A Conservative MP’s tongue and throat cancer alarm is reigniting the verbal confrontation over whether young people ought to get the HPV antibody free of charge.

Amid his nine-month episode of cancer, Peter Kent says, specialists persuaded him its vital to inoculate young men against human papillomavirus.

MP beats throat malignancy, urges HPV immunization for young men.

Two sorts of HPV reason 70 per cent of cervical malignancy in ladies, as indicated by the Canadian Cancer Society. In men, the infection is in charge of a high rate of mouth, nose and throat growths, and also a few malignancies of the penis and anus.

Young ladies between ages nine and 13 going to class anyplace in Canada can pick to get a free HPV inoculation.

Just two regions, Alberta and Prince Edward Island, offer the same option to youngsters. Outside of those two areas, young men can in any case be immunized, yet just if their guardian or watchman decides to pay out-of-pocket.

“Our huge concern is that its out there and that individuals aren’t exploiting it,” Dr. Robert Nuttall, the Canadian Cancer Society’s executive of cancer control policy, said.

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Oral Cancer Survivor Eva Grayzel Talks About Her Efforts to Make A Difference

Wed, Sep 3, 2014

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Source: www.lehighvalleylive.com
Author: Andrew James Sheldon

 

As an oral cancer survivor, Eva Grayzel knows how lucky she is.

She organizes an annual awareness walk for what she says is an often overlooked disease.

“I was diagnosed sixteen years ago and I am so lucky to be articulate,” she said. “I can’t ethically live my life as I do without doing whatever I can to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to other people.”

Grayzel survived stage four oral cancer, which is the most serious of the four stages. She has served as the chair of the oral cancer awareness walk in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, for six years. This year’s walk is Sept. 27.

Grayzel says that raising awareness is the key step to catching the disease early before it can do the most damage. Other survivors will join her in the walk.

“There are going to be 20 survivors who have all been diagnosed late and most of them have facial disfigurements. They can’t speak normally, some of them can’t speak,” she said. “It’s devastating. Oral cancer steals things we take for granted such basic human needs, everything social.”

Grayzel’s group helped organize a continuing education class for dentists to learn about oral cancer and its connection with the human papillomavirus. Symptoms of oral cancer are sometimes unrecognized by sufferers and doctors.

Eileen Ciszak lost her daughter as a result of a misdiagnosis.

“The doctor gave her an antibiotic and told her to see her dentist, that she probably had a cracked tooth,” she said. “By the time she got there, the dentist knew immediately she needed to pursue this and the next day she was having a biopsy done.”

Thanks to the support of people like Ciszak, the walk has been growing. They had attended the walk once several years ago, but stopped after their daughter died.

“The first year we attended the walk, at that time my daughter had just had her oral cancer surgery, and we wanted to show our support,” Ciszak said. “Ten months after we attended the walk, she had passed away and it was just very difficult for us to really get involved at that point.”

After some healing, Ciszak decided to return.

“We just wanted to try to help organize, to create awareness with our story, be there to support others who have lost loved ones and support the survivors,” she said.

Eva GrayzelEva Grayzel, walk chairwoman, attended the 2013 Oral Cancer Foundation Walk for Awareness with her husband, Ken Cohen.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
 
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Three shots that could stop cancer

Tue, Aug 26, 2014

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Source: tucson.com
Author: Meredith Wadman

Not so long ago, when my sons still had smooth cheeks and children’s voices, I had them vaccinated against human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease. It was late 2011, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had just recommended that boys join girls in being vaccinated at age 11 or 12. I was certainly receptive: HPV, as it’s commonly called, causes cervical cancer, cancer of the tonsils, cancer of the back of the tongue and, less often, cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus and penis. It seemed important to ensure that my kids were protected.

Yet numbers released last month by the CDC show that my sons, now 14 and 15, are among a small minority of adolescent males who have been vaccinated. In 2013, just 14 percent of American boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the HPV vaccine. (The CDC also recommends “catch-up” vaccination for males up to age 21.)

Not that parents are rushing to have their girls vaccinated either, even though the CDC first recommended the vaccine for prepubescent girls in 2007 and virtually all insurers pay for it. In 2013, fewer than 38 percent of American girls between 13 and 17 had received the full three-dose course.

It is heartbreaking to watch a safe, effective vaccine go unused. Consider this: The CDC estimates that increasing the vaccination rate of American girls to 80 percent would prevent 53,000 cervical cancers during the lifetimes of girls who are now 12 and younger.

When I had my sons vaccinated, it was partly with girls in mind. After all, if fewer young men are infected, fewer young women will be exposed to the virus that causes cervical cancer — currently the most common cancer prevented by the vaccine. But now I am realizing that HPV poses a growing risk to boys.

A new breed of cancer of the back of the tongue and tonsils, caused by HPV, is rising in incidence — likely caused, researchers suspect, by increases in premarital sex and oral sex over the past several decades. These cancers afflict men far more often than women, and at relatively younger ages than do other head and neck cancers, which typically appear in men older than 60. Middle-aged men who don’t die from their HPV-linked cancer often must live for years with the side effects of intensive chemotherapy and radiation delivered to the back of the throat. These can include the permanent inability to swallow and the appearance later of new, aggressive, radiation-induced cancers.

If this trend continues, we are going to see more cancer of the back of the tongue and the tonsils caused by HPV. One recent analysis of 30 studies, conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers, found that the proportion of such cancers caused by HPV rose from 21 percent before 1990 to 65 percent after 2000. Anil Chaturvedi of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues have estimated, based on recent trends, that by 2020 there will be more new cases of these HPV-induced throat cancers in the United States each year than new cervical cancer cases.

So the actor Michael Douglas did us all a service when he was so frank with Britain’s Guardian newspaper last year. When asked if his throat cancer had been caused by heavy drinking and smoking, which are also risk factors for the disease, the actor replied: “No. I mean, without getting too specific, this particular cancer in tests is caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”

Many parents don’t like to think of their 11- and 12-year-olds as sexual creatures. Ironically, the CDC recommendation assumes not that kids are sexually active at this tender age but rather that they are not: The point of vaccination is to close the door before the horse is out of the barn.

It’s no use telling yourself that your child isn’t “that kind” of kid. The fact is, HPV is so common that almost all sexually active adults are infected at some point. Last year, the CDC estimated that about 79 million Americans were infected, most of them in their late teens and early 20s.

Most people who get HPV have a transient infection that their immune system clears with no lasting damage. But in some people, the virus takes up residence and goes on to cause cancer. I am grateful that, thanks to the HPV vaccine, I will never have to find out if my sons fell into that second, unlucky group.

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