Monthly Archives: November 2003

268,000 new oral cancer cases yearly

  • 11/27/2003
  • Malaysia
  • DAILY EXPRESS NEWS

Oral cancer accounts for the 11th commonest form of cancer, with oral leukoplakia, as an instance, showing a prevalence (from epidemiological studies) ranging from 0.96 to 16.9 per cent for Malaysia and 0.2 to 11.7 per cent for other countries.

Annually, 268,000 new cases are diagnosed, and 128,000 deaths reported. The overall survival rate for oral cancer is less than 50 per cent over a five-year period. It has not improved in the last 30 years. The reason for this is that the disease is diagnosed only in its late stages and for the regional metastasis.

For the benefit of dental surgeons practicing in Sabah, a symposium on “Oral Cancer, What the GP can do”, organized by the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) with the cooperation of the Dental Division of the Sabah Health Services Department, will be held on Dec 15.

“Dental surgeons, especially those in the private sector, should therefore participate in this rare opportunity,” said Dr Zaiton Hj Tahir, who is the State Coordinator for the Implementation of the National Program for Primary Prevention and Early Detection of Oral Pre-cancer and Cancer.

There will also be a hands-on course, “An Innovative Procedure in Fixing Loose Lower Complete Dentures and Long Term Mini Implants”, she added.

According to her, the MDA would be presenting three guest speakers, Dr Rosnah Zain, Dr M. Thomas Abraham and Dr Philip CS Ting.

Dr Rosnah, currently a professor and head at the Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology, University Malaya, is also the president-elect of the Malaysian Section of the International Association of Dental Research – Southeast Asian Division. Her works involving major research in oral cancer and potentially malignant lesions – aspects on prognostic indicators and training of dentists for oral cancer screening, have been widely published in local and international journals.

Her talk would centre on “Diagnosis and Management of Leukoplakia and Lichen Planus in the Oral Cavity”. Besides oral leukoplakia, epidemiological studies have also shown a prevalence of oral lichen planus (OLP), ranging from 0.38 to 5.4 per cent for Malaysia and 0.1 to 2.3 per cent for other countries.

Management of these two lesions differs and the importance of differentiating between OLP, especially the plaque type from leukoplakia, will be highlighted in relation to the management strategies for these patients.

“The final objective of this presentation is to get general dental practitioners to know how to clinically diagnose and treat these lesions while also recognizing which type and/or at what stage a referral of such patients to specialists will be required,” said Dr Zaiton.

Dr M. Thomas, attached to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Klang, worked in India and United Kingdom from 1991 – 2000 before returning to Malaysia and joining the Ministry of Health at Selayang Hospital. He is currently Publications Secretary for the Malaysian Dental Journal and is also Commission Chairman, Oral Disease Asia Pacific Dental Federation.

OCF Note: Besides this news article offering an estimate of the oral cancer cases yearly worldwide (which is a low estimate by some other publications), we have included it here to show that whether in the US or Malaysia, the task to bring the death rate down from oral cancer is still the same. Public and professional awareness, and the help of the dental community to find those early lesions by doing opportunistic screening of the mouths that are in their offices every day.

November, 2003|Archive|

From oil prospecting to cancer detection

  • 11/6/2003
  • Scotland
  • Control & Instrumentation

Finding oil and gas reservoirs has just become a matter of following your nose – or rather a super-sensitive electronic nose developed by researchers in Scotland. The device, which measures tiny quantities of the gas ethane, can also be used as a breathalyzer to sniff out lung cancer in its early stages.
Prospecting for oil and gas is usually an expensive and laborious process, involving bouncing sound waves through rock layers to see if they might be capable of trapping hydrocarbons. Results can take 6-12 months to interpret, and even then there is no guarantee that the rocks do contain oil – just that they have the potential to do so. Drilling new sites is therefore an expensive gamble for oil companies.

But oil and gas reservoirs naturally leak tiny traces of hydrocarbons such as ethane into the atmosphere. Dr. Bill Hirst and colleagues at Shell Global Solutions realized that detecting and tracking down the sources of these faint whiffs of underground gas could help improve the success rate of prospectors. To improve their first ‘Light Touch’ prototype sensor Shell contacted Professor Miles Padgett and his colleagues in the Optics Group at the University of Glasgow. The Glasgow team developed a sensor system that fits into a Landcruiser and can sniff out ethane in the air at less than one part per billion. The ethane sensor continuously sucks air into a chamber where the gas is measured using an infrared laser. By measuring the amount of laser light absorbed at a certain wavelength, the instrument can measure how much ethane is in the chamber. To prospect for oil and gas, measurements of ethane and wind direction are combined to locate the likely sources of the gas detected using software also developed by the Glasgow group.

The new survey technique is much quicker and cheaper to use than traditional techniques and reveals whether oil and gas are actually present. The system can be used to screen an area before deciding whether to use other survey techniques, or to rank previously surveyed areas to predict which are most likely to contain oil and gas. Drilling is now underway in Oman at the first of several sites pinpointed by the technique and other locations will be drilled later this year.

But it is not only oil fields that breathe tiny quantities of ethane into the air – people can do so too as an indirect result of cancer. Part of the body’s response to cancerous cells produces elevated levels of free radicals – highly reactive chemicals that break down cell membranes into hydrocarbons including ethane. Dr. Chris Longbottom of the University of Dundee recognized that the Glasgow technology was well placed to detect these gases in a patient’s breath where medical research has shown that they can provide clues as to what is going on inside the body. The ethane sensor is now being put to the test to detect early stages of disease including lung cancer in clinical trials at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Lung cancer often spreads before significant symptoms appear and there are no alternative techniques for early detection of the disease.

November, 2003|Archive|

Vocal support for cancer patients

  • 11/5/2003
  • UK and the Netherlands
  • University of Wales College of Medicine

A prosthesis that will dramatically improve the quality of life for throat cancer patients, making it easier for them to speak after undergoing radical surgery, has been developed by researchers in the UK and the Netherlands.
The Newvoice valve – created by researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine, UK medical polymer specialists Principality Medical and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands – consists of a sound-producing cylinder integrated into a one-way valve made from bacteria-resistant silicone rubber.

Worldwide around 30,000 throat cancer patients each year must undergo a laryngectomy to save their lives. The procedure involves removing the larynx, vocal cords and epiglottis, then connecting the windpipe to the outside of the neck where it is sewn into the skin to leave a hole through which patients breathe. The voice is restored using a one-way valve that prevents food and drink entering the trachea. To speak, patients must close the hole in their throat with a finger, forcing air through the valve and into the esophagus where the tissues vibrate to produce sound.
Over a relatively short time these valves tend to malfunction due to a build-up of bacterial and fungal contamination from food and drink. The device may need replacing as often as every four months, requiring another operation each time. As the silicone rubber used to make the Newvoice valve is already resistant to bacteria and fungus it does not need to be coated, reducing manufacturing costs.

The valve can produce sound without the need for the throat to be covered with the hand and patients will also benefit from a more lifelike voice, as the system uses artificial rubber vocal chords to produce natural inflections and improved tonal variation. ‘This prosthesis should last years rather than months,’ said Dr. Mark Waters of the University of Wales College of Medicine’s Dental School, where the novel material was designed.

November, 2003|Archive|

MIT to develop non-invasive cancer detection tools

  • 11/4/2003
  • Boston
  • e4engineering.com

The George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory in the School of Science at MIT has been awarded a Bioengineering Research Partnership grant to develop and implement spectroscopic techniques for imaging and diagnosing dysplasia -the precursor to cancer – in the uterine cervix and the oral cavity.
Cervical and oral cancer account for approximately 11,000 deaths in the United States each year. Detection of the precancerous state of human tissue is crucial for ease of treatment and greatly improved survival, but it is often invisible and difficult to diagnose. The new techniques are said to provide a method for visualization and accurate diagnosis based on spectroscopic detection and imaging.

Clinical screening for cervical and oral precancer are multibillion-dollar industries which currently rely on visual detection of suspicious areas followed by invasive biopsy and microscopic examination. Given that visually identified suspicious areas do not always correspond to clinically significant lesions; spectroscopic imaging and diagnosis could prevent unnecessary invasive biopsies and potential delays in diagnosis.
Michael S. Feld, professor of physics and director of the Spectroscopy Lab, says the laboratory has developed a portable instrument that delivers weak pulses of laser light and ordinary white light from a thin optical fiber probe onto the patient’s tissue through an endoscope. This device analyses tissue over a region around 1 millimeter in diameter and has shown promising results in clinical studies. It accurately identified invisible precancerous changes in the colon, bladder and esophagus, as well as the cervix and oral cavity. The second device, which has not yet been tested on patients, can image precancerous features over areas of tissue up to a few centimeters in diameter.

Feld predicted that in a couple of years, these devices will lead to a new class of endoscopes and other diagnostic instruments that will allow physicians to obtain high-resolution images. These easy-to-read images will map out normal, precancerous and cancerous tissue the way a contour map highlights elevations in different colors. The optical fiber probe instrument employs a method called trimodal spectroscopy, in which three diagnostic techniques – light-scattering spectroscopy (LSS), diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) and intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy (IFS) – are combined.
IFS provides chemical information about the tissue, LSS provides information about the cell nuclei near the tissue surface and DRS provides structural information about the underlying tissue. The information provided by the three techniques is complementary and leads to a combined diagnosis, though the imaging technique is based on LSS alone.
The LSS optical technique has long been used to study the size and shape of small spheres such as water droplets. For cancer detection, the method is applied to the cell’s spheroid nucleus. Physics theory predicts that scattered light undergoes small but significant color variations when bouncing back from spheres of a certain size and refractive index.
Light is delivered through the probe onto the patient’s tissue. The probe collects the light that bounces back and analyses its colors. The color content is then used to extract diagnostic information.
‘By analyzing the intensity variations in this back-scattered component from color to color, the nuclear size and density can be mapped,’ Feld said. Closely packed cells with larger-than-normal nuclei packed tightly with genetic material are markers of precancerous change.

‘The images created with this new technique are different from ordinary microscopic images in that they provide hard and fast information about cellular features,’ he said. ‘We believe this is an important step that will lead to new optical tools for both [making] early cancer diagnoses and developing a better understanding of how changes in the genetic material inside the cell’s nucleus make the tissue more vulnerable to cancer.

November, 2003|Archive|

Gum tobacco trial sales rile opponents

  • 11/3/2003
  • Japan
  • Mainichi Shimbun

Medical organizations and antismoking groups are up fuming over a trial “tobacco gum” product that is being sold in Japan, demanding that health authorities remove it from shelves.
Mainichi Shimbun

A packet of the controversial tobacco gum.

The Firebreak brand tobacco gum, a Swedish-produced product, is legally classified as tobacco but has similar shape and flavor to chewing gum.

The Ministry of Finance approved the product on Sept. 11 and about 60,000 packets have already been imported into the country. Since the gum doesn’t produce any smoke it is being marketed as a product that allows people to enjoy tobacco without having to worry about others.

One piece of gum contains one milligram of nicotine, and each piece is advertised as being the equivalent of one cigarette, but lasting for about 20 minutes. The gum has a mint flavor, but a spicier flavor comes out when it is chewed. However, critics say that since the ingredients of the tobacco go straight into people’s mouths, harmful ingredients are more easily absorbed compared with rolled tobacco. They say this could lead to oral cancer.

On Nov. 4, the Japanese Society for Dental Health and the Japanese Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons requested that the Finance Ministry withdraw approval of the product. Representatives of an antismoking association also demanded that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which deals with food product safety, take measures against the gum as a harmful product.

Kazunori Nakakuki, a part-time lecturer at the Nippon Dental University who filed a request was dumbfounded at the approval of the gum. “I can’t understand why it was approved when tobacco regulations are tightening over the world,” he said. “There is a possibility minors will chew it.” At a press conference held on Friday at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a representative of the company marketing the product said the claims against the gum were baseless, adding there was no harm of inhaling smoke, like with traditional cigarettes.

“Japan has a high smoking rate, but this year a law to requiring a cut in passive smoking was put into effect and we chose (the product) for the market. We want to decide whether to begin full-fledged marketing after continuing the trial sales,” the representative said. Sales of the gum began in convenience stores and tobacco retailers across Japan from Oct. 16. Each packet, containing 10 gum pieces, retails for 280 yen.

November, 2003|Archive|

Former AU star has new battle

  • 11/2/2003
  • Alabama
  • Monique Curet
  • University of Alabama

Pat Sullivan loaned his name to campaign against smokeless tobacco as part of his fight against oral cancer

Pat Sullivan is no stranger to the Iron Bowl, the annual match-up between Auburn and Alabama. The 1971 Heisman Trophy winner continues to rank as one of the top passers in Auburn’s history, and he also spent six years as an assistant coach at the school.

Now a coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 53-year-old Sullivan is fighting a new opponent: oral cancer. He was diagnosed in September with cancer that was at the base of his tongue and spread to the lymph nodes in his neck. A two-decade smokeless tobacco user, Sullivan has decided to lend his name and support to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s campaign against smokeless tobacco use.

We all think we’re invincible, but we’re not, Sullivan said, adding that he hopes to raise awareness among young people. Sullivan started coaching at UAB in 1999 and is the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Cancer of the mouth and throat is the sixth most common cancer among males, according to the health department. Each year in Alabama, 600 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed, and 150 people die from it, the agency reports. Because its rate of oral cancer has increased over the past 20 years, Alabama received a grade of D-minus on the 2003 Oral Health America Report Card.

Recent studies have indicated that about 30 percent of boys in grades 9-12 in Alabama used smokeless tobacco in the past month, (and) 7.5 percent of adult males in the state (twice the national average) are spit tobacco users, the health department reports.

Sullivan’s smokeless tobacco use stemmed from his involvement in athletics, he said. Before he started playing pro football — first for the Atlanta Falcons and then the Washington Redskins — he thought the product was nasty, he said. But when he needed something to help him stay awake during meetings and give him energy during training camp, he turned to smokeless tobacco. He said he tried to tell himself that it wasn’t as bad for him as smoking.

Sullivan has completed his chemotherapy treatments, which he said went well, and begins a 6 to 7-week course of radiation therapy next week. He stopped using smokeless tobacco completely in July, just a few months before his diagnosis.

Sullivan, who is married with three children and three grandchildren, said his family was the first thing he thought of after being diagnosed. He didn’t want them to suffer because of him. He said “having cancer is as humbling a thing that’s ever happened in my life”.

November, 2003|Archive|

Former AU star has new battle

  • 11/2/2003
  • Alabama
  • Monique Curet
  • University of Alabama

Pat Sullivan loaned his name to campaign against smokeless tobacco as part of his fight against oral cancer

Pat Sullivan is no stranger to the Iron Bowl, the annual match-up between Auburn and Alabama. The 1971 Heisman Trophy winner continues to rank as one of the top passers in Auburn’s history, and he also spent six years as an assistant coach at the school.

Now a coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 53-year-old Sullivan is fighting a new opponent: oral cancer. He was diagnosed in September with cancer that was at the base of his tongue and spread to the lymph nodes in his neck. A two-decade smokeless tobacco user, Sullivan has decided to lend his name and support to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s campaign against smokeless tobacco use.

We all think we’re invincible, but we’re not, Sullivan said, adding that he hopes to raise awareness among young people. Sullivan started coaching at UAB in 1999 and is the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Cancer of the mouth and throat is the sixth most common cancer among males, according to the health department. Each year in Alabama, 600 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed, and 150 people die from it, the agency reports. Because its rate of oral cancer has increased over the past 20 years, Alabama received a grade of D-minus on the 2003 Oral Health America Report Card.

Recent studies have indicated that about 30 percent of boys in grades 9-12 in Alabama used smokeless tobacco in the past month, (and) 7.5 percent of adult males in the state (twice the national average) are spit tobacco users, the health department reports.

Sullivan’s smokeless tobacco use stemmed from his involvement in athletics, he said. Before he started playing pro football — first for the Atlanta Falcons and then the Washington Redskins — he thought the product was nasty, he said. But when he needed something to help him stay awake during meetings and give him energy during training camp, he turned to smokeless tobacco. He said he tried to tell himself that it wasn’t as bad for him as smoking.

Sullivan has completed his chemotherapy treatments, which he said went well, and begins a 6 to 7-week course of radiation therapy next week. He stopped using smokeless tobacco completely in July, just a few months before his diagnosis.

Sullivan, who is married with three children and three grandchildren, said his family was the first thing he thought of after being diagnosed. He didn’t want them to suffer because of him. He said “having cancer is as humbling a thing that’s ever happened in my life”.

November, 2003|Oral Cancer News|

Introgen to study Advexin as oral cancer-fighting rinse

  • 11/1/2003
  • Austin
  • American City Business Journals Inc

Austin-based Introgen Therapeutics Inc. [Nasdaq: INGN] will study the effectiveness of its leading cancer drug candidate Advexin as a mouthwash for oral lesions, Introgen announced Thursday.

Introgen develops gene therapy drugs. The study is the first trial to investigate the effective of Advexin on pre-malignancies that could develop into full-blown cancer. Advexin was granted “fast track” designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for head and neck cancer.

“One of our goals is to treat earlier stage disease, even prevent disease if possible, in the hopes of improving outcomes for cancer patients,” says Robert Sobol, Introgen’s senior vice president of medical and scientific affairs.

Patients with pre-malignant lesions will be treated for up to six months with the Advexin oral rinse, according to Introgen. The study is being conducted under an agreement between Introgen and the Bethesda, Md.-based National Cancer Institute.

Tobacco smoking and alcohol use are contributing factors to the development of oral cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that 30,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States.

November, 2003|Archive|