Monthly Archives: March 2005

Deep vein thrombosis in cancer: the scale of the problem and approaches to management

  • 3/31/2005
  • A. Falanga and L. Zacharski
  • Annals of Oncology, doi:10.1093/annonc/mdi165

Patients with cancer have long been recognised to be at high risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), although the condition remains under diagnosed and under treated in these patients.

As a consequence, the morbidity and mortality due to deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism remains unacceptably high in this group. Furthermore, the management of VTE in the presence of malignancy is complex, due both to the effects of the cancer itself and its treatments.

Conventional long-term management of VTE involves the use of vitamin K antagonists (VKAs), such as warfarin, to reduce the risk of recurrence. However, this approach is associated with a range of practical difficulties including the need for regular laboratory monitoring, the potential for drug interactions, in addition to the risk of treatment resistance and bleeding in patients with cancer. Recent research indicates that the use of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) therapy instead of VKAs may be beneficial in these patients. In particular, evidence from a large clinical trial of the LMWH dalteparin indicates that this agent offers an effective alternative to VKAs in the long-term management of VTE, that is free from the practical problems associated with the use of VKAs and without increasing the risk of bleeding.

Authors:
A. Flanga (1)
L. Zacharski (2)

Authors’ Affiliations:
(1) Department of Hematology-Oncology, Ospedali Riuniti, Bergamo, Italy
(2) VA Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont, USA

March, 2005|Archive|

Listen to Your Voice: Changes Could Mean Danger

  • 3/31/2005
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • University of Michigan Health System as reported by Newswise.com

Alice Lundsten thought it was just a cough that wouldn’t go away. But it turned out to be much more than that. Sounding hoarse, and feeling like there was something stuck in her throat, Alice went to her doctor for a checkup. The doctor suspected something was wrong but couldn’t see it, so she sent Alice to a specialist.

And that’s when Alice learned she had cancer — on one of her vocal cords.

After laser microsurgery to remove the tumor, and voice therapy to optimize the quality of her voice, Alice is sounding so good that she’s been able to work as a church receptionist. But her experience should be a lesson for others, she warns.

“It would’ve been helpful if I had listened to my own voice earlier and gone to the doctor” sooner, she says. “Now I know that that’s the thing to do — not to wait.”

The voice specialist who discovered and treated Alice’s cancer couldn’t agree more.

“She’s the perfect example of why it’s important to pay attention to a voice change,” says Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D., F.A.C.S., who heads the University of Michigan’s Vocal Health Center. “People need to be aware that a voice change can indicate health problems.”

He notes that voice specialists have designated April 16 as World Voice Day to bring attention to the many voice problems that can occur, and ways to prevent them. Hogikyan is heading World Voice Day efforts in the United States through the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, a professional society for ear, nose and throat specialists.

Not all voice problems are due to something as serious as cancer. But they should never be ignored, particularly if they persist for a period of time or progressively get worse. And some can be prevented.

Despite all this, many people take their voices for granted, Hogikyan says, and don’t seek help until a problem with their voice starts interfering with their life. For people whose careers revolve around speaking, such as teachers, salespeople, clergy and receptionists, untreated voice problems can greatly interfere with their work.

So, says Hogikyan, it’s important to take voice symptoms seriously. Such symptoms can include hoarseness that sticks around or gets worse over time; loss of vocal range, especially the upper “notes” of the voice; loss of volume or ability to project a loud voice; and loss of endurance, causing the voice to die out over the course of a day. Neck muscle pain or throat soreness after voice use can also indicate a problem.

People who smoke are especially at risk for cancer of the “voice box” or larynx, says Hogikyan, an associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at the U-M Medical School and associate professor at the U-M School of Music. Smoking is the number-one risk factor for laryngeal cancer, and regular heavy drinking of alcohol also raises the risk.

“Larynx or voice-box cancer most often presents as hoarseness, and the American Cancer Society estimates that about 10,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year,” says Hogikyan. As with many other cancers, the chance of curing it is best if it is discovered at an early stage. An estimated 3,770 people will die this year from laryngeal cancer.

Occupational voice users, and just plain talkative people, can develop vocal problems related to the strain they put on their vocal cords, which doctors call vocal folds. One such problem involves benign (non-cancerous) nodules that form on the vocal folds, and can cause hoarseness and limitation of the vocal range because of abnormal vocal cord vibration.

Colds and other infections can cause laryngitis, a few days of hoarseness or weakened voice. And over-zealous sports fans can lose their voice temporarily from rooting too hard for the home team.

But other voice problems can stem from problems with the muscles and nerves that control the movement of the vocal cords. Hogikyan and his colleagues see many cases of spasmodic dysphonia, in which the voice cuts out, or is uncontrollable, because of spasms of the vocal cords. U-M research has shown that injections of Botox, which is better known as a wrinkle treatment, can relax the vocal muscles and restore a patient’s voice.

Not every voice problem is preventable, but many are. Here are some tips to protect your voice:
• Stop smoking and/or drinking heavily. Not only will you reduce your risk of cancer, you’ll cut down on the irritation of the voice box that can cause hoarseness or long-term voice changes.
• Avoid screaming or shouting. If you feel like your throat is dry, tired, or your voice is becoming hoarse, stop talking.
• Don’t clear your throat regularly. If you feel you have to, there may be an underlying problem.
• Drink lots of water and caffeine-free non-alcoholic beverages. “Moist is good for the voice,” Hogikyan quips.
• Warm up your voice, just like athletes warm up their muscles. If you’ll be teaching a class, leading a meeting, or giving a speech, take a few moments beforehand to get your voice ready. “Warm-ups don’t have to be complicated,” Hogikyan says. “Simple things like gliding up and down in your vocal range on different vowel sounds, making lip trill sounds, or tongue trills, can get you ready for the vocal task you want to perform.” This will reduce the chance that your voice will start to give out during your presentation, or be tired afterward.
• If you can, use amplification for public speaking. That way, you can use a conversational volume and still reach the people who need to hear you, while avoiding strain on your voice box.

Above all, Hogikyan says, seek specialized help if you’re experiencing a problem with your voice, especially one that persists or gets worse over time. Start with your primary doctor or health care provider, and seek a referral to a specialist if needed. If you’re not sure whether you need specialized help, you can take an online vocal health quiz offered by the American Academy of Otolaryngology and based on Hogikyan’s research into voice-related quality of life. It’s online at http://www.entlink.net/news/voicedisorderstest.cfm.

The U-M Vocal Health Center, like many voice centers across the country, offers specialized help through a team of doctors, nurses, speech pathologists and vocal arts professionals.

“We opened the Vocal Health Center in 1996 as a place where people who are having trouble with their voice could come for innovative and comprehensive care,” says Hogikyan. “That includes anybody having a voice problem — but in particular, we have a special interest and expertise in caring for the occupational or professional voice user.”

Facts about voice health and voice problems:
• The voice is the sound made when the vocal cords vibrate due to the passage of air through the larynx. The sound made by the cords is amplified and shaped when it passes through the nose and mouth.
• Common symptoms of a voice problem include hoarseness or raspy-sounding speech; a raw, achy, or strained throat with voice use; increased effort needed to talk or sing; and loss of ability to hit high notes when singing.
• The most common cause of a voice problem is an upper-respiratory infection such as a cold. But voice problems can be related to anything from acid reflux to cancer to nerve damage.
• Voice changes are the most common sign of laryngeal (voice-box) cancer, which is diagnosed in nearly 10,000 Americans each year and kills more than 3,700 of them. More than 95 percent of people diagnosed with the most common type of laryngeal cancer are smokers. Heavy or regular drinking, especially combined with smoking, can raise the risk.
• Experts recommend that if a person’s voice does not return to its normal state within two to four weeks after a cold, he or she should seek a medical evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat specialist. A throat examination after a change in the voice lasting longer than one month is especially important for smokers.
• Some voice problems are caused by non-cancerous nodules, cysts or polyps on the vocal folds; treatment for these includes voice rest, voice therapy, singing voice therapy, and microsurgery on the vocal cord.
• Nerve and muscle problems can also interfere with the voice; treatments for such problems include Botox (botulinum toxin) injections in the vocal folds.
• Some medications can affect the voice by drying out the mucous membrane of the vocal folds, or by causing fluid to build up in the vocal folds. Others can cause hoarseness by promoting yeast infections in the voice box. Such medications include antidepressants, birth control pills, allergy and asthma medications, and diuretics (“water pills”) for blood pressure.

March, 2005|Archive|

Chemoradiation With and Without Surgery in Patients With Locally Advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Esophagus

  • 3/31/2005
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Michael Stahl et al.
  • Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 23, No 10 (April 1), 2005: pp. 2310-2317

Purpose:
Combined chemoradiotherapy with and without surgery are widely accepted alternatives for the curative treatment of patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer. The value of adding surgery to chemotherapy and radiotherapy is unknown.

Patients and Methods:
Patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the esophagus were randomly allocated to either induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiotherapy (40 Gy) followed by surgery (arm A), or the same induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiotherapy (at least 65 Gy) without surgery (arm B). Primary outcome was overall survival time.

Results:
The median observation time was 6 years. The analysis of 172 eligible, randomized patients (86 patients per arm) showed overall survival to be equivalent between the two treatment groups (log-rank test for equivalence, P < .05). Local progression-free survival was better in the surgery group (2-year progression-free survival, 64.3%; 95% CI, 52.1% to 76.5%) than in the chemoradiotherapy group (2-year progression-free survival, 40.7%; 95% CI, 28.9% to 52.5%; hazard ratio [HR] for arm B v arm A, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.3 to 3.5; P = .003). Treatment-related mortality was significantly increased in the surgery group than in the chemoradiotherapy group (12.8% v 3.5%, respectively; P = .03). Cox regression analysis revealed clinical tumor response to induction chemotherapy to be the single independent prognostic factor for overall survival (HR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.19 to 0.47; P < .0001).

CONCLUSION: Adding surgery to chemoradiotherapy improves local tumor control but does not increase survival of patients with locally advanced esophageal SCC. Tumor response to induction chemotherapy identifies a favorable prognostic group within these high-risk patients, regardless of the treatment group.

Authors:
Michael Stahl, Martin Stuschke, Nils Lehmann, Hans-Joachim Meyer, Martin K. Walz, Siegfried Seeber, Bodo Klump, Wilfried Budach, Reinhard Teichmann, Marcus Schmitt, Gerd Schmitt, Claus Franke, Hansjochen Wilke

Authors’ Affiliations:
From the Departments of Medical Oncology and Hematology and Surgery, Kliniken Essen-Mitte; Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Department of Radiation Oncology, and Department of Internal Medicine (Cancer Research), West German Cancer Center, University of Essen Medical School, Essen; Department of Surgery, Klinikum Solingen, Solingen; Departments of Gastorenterology, Radiation Oncology, and Surgery, University Clinic, Tübingen; and Departments of Gastroenterology, Radiation Oncology, and Surgery, University Clinic, Düsseldorf, Germany

March, 2005|Archive|

Using Light to Find Oral Cancer

  • 3/31/2005
  • Houston, TX
  • CancerWise (www.cancerwise.org)

New Devices May Help Detect Tumors Earlier

In the hope of finding an often-devastating cancer before it has a chance to develop, researchers are designing a series of probes that will literally highlight suspicious lesions in the mouth that may harbor fledgling tumors.

These devices — a “scanner” that first bathes the mouth with light to pick out problem areas and a follow-up probe that shines a concentrated diagnostic beam on the lesions— are scheduled for testing at M. D. Anderson this spring and summer.

If they fare well, the device designers foresee a time when community dentists or physicians turn to the probes to help screen for spots that can be difficult to pick out by observation alone.

“I can’t always tell which mouth lesions might be precancerous. They can be tiny white, pink or red areas that are really hard to tell apart from normal tissue,” says Ann Gillenwater, M.D., an associate professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery. “Now, our only choice is to biopsy an area that looks suspicious, and this can be more invasive than is necessary.”

“More research needs to be done, but with these devices it may be possible to find oral cavity cancers when they are at their most treatable,” says Gillenwater, who has been conducting studies on the technology for several years. “When found later, as many of these cancers are, the effects of surgery and radiation treatment can impact a patient’s quality of living, if not their lives.”

Cancer reflects light differently

We don’t always know why people develop cancer of the mouth, also known as oral cancer. Smoking and smokeless tobacco are strong risk factors, but the cancer also develops in a number of nonsmokers. Unfortunately, it is most often diagnosed at an advanced stage, when it is difficult to treat.

But like some other cancers, those of the mouth share a feature that offers a chance at early detection — they interact with light differently than normal tissue. Collagen and other molecules found in the lining of the mouth (and in other sites) fluoresce naturally. That is, they glow when bathed in certain wavelengths of light. For reasons that aren’t completely understood, the fluorescent light emitted from cancerous and precancerous tissues is less intense.

“It has been known for a century that cancer cells have different optical features, but the trick has been that these differences have been hard to pick up,” Gillenwater says. “Now, computing and optical technology is at the point where we can try to solve this.”

Gillenwater, working with Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D., an electrical engineering professor at The University of Texas in Austin, has designed a two-step system that uses state-of-the-art equipment to assess minute changes in fluorescence. It is the same kind of technology being developed by Michele Follen, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gynecologic Oncology, for the detection of cervical cancer. Others also are looking into whether such devices can find breast, colon and bladder cancer.

Moving into testing

Development of the oral cancer probes is being supported with funds from the National Institutes of Health. Both hook up to computers that analyze differences in light waves from normal and precancerous or cancerous tissue.

The first device is a multispectral digital microscope known as the “MDM scanner” that is still being developed. Researchers have tweaked an existing dental microscope to churn out different wavelengths of light, and they are now figuring out which wavelengths of light are best at generating fluorescence in the target tissue. Researchers want to launch a small trial to test the scanner later this year.

The second device is an eight-inch, pen-like probe designed to be placed directly on areas that the scanner detects as suspicious and measure fluorescence emitted. It also uses what is known as “reflectance spectroscopy” to measure the wavelengths of light bounced off cells at the surface of mouth. The probe has been more extensively tested and a new trial is slated to begin shortly. In this test of more than 100 patients referred to M. D. Anderson because of a suspicious lesion, researchers will use the probe before a surgical biopsy, and then will compare results of the probe to the outcome from the biopsy.

“The notion that a physician might be able to pick up a precancerous lesion with just a harmless beam of light is very exciting to us,” Gillenwater says.

March, 2005|Archive|

Healthy Change, Early Screening Can Cut Cancer Rates

  • 3/31/2005
  • Amanda Gardner
  • Forbes (www.forbes.com)

Despite gains, a new report finds that half of all cancers could still be prevented through early detection and lifestyle changes.

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity and poor nutrition remain the major preventable causes of cancer and other diseases in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) report released Thursday.

“We have sufficient knowledge of cancer causes and prevention that could prevent cancer burden in the U.S. by at least half,” said Vilma Cokkinides, one of the lead authors of the report and program director of risk factor surveillance for the ACS in Atlanta. “A healthy lifestyle coupled with early detection and treatment is the best personal weapon each of us has to fight this disease.”

“It just reinforces the two messages: quit smoking or don’t start, and get screened [for cancer],” added Dr. Ronald Blum, director of Beth Israel Cancer Center in New York City. “The message bears repeating.”

The ACS estimates that about one-third (570,280) of cancer deaths in this country in 2005 can be traced back to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, overweight and obesity and other lifestyle factors. And although tobacco use is down, the society predicts that this year smoking will still be the underlying cause of more than 168,140 cancer deaths.

Overweight and obesity could cause as many as one in seven cancer deaths in men and one in five such deaths in women, the report adds. Having a high body mass index increased death rates for 11 types of cancer in men and 12 in women, according to a 2003 report by the ACS.

Other cancers, including colon and cervical, can be prevented by better screening. Despite this knowledge, more than half the Americans over age 50 do not get tested for colorectal cancer, the ACS experts said.

The report found similar trends in both children/adolescents and in adults.

Smoking rates among high school students were 21.9 percent in 2003, down from 36.4 percent in 1997. This reduction can be at least partially attributed to increased taxes on cigarettes, public smoking restrictions, advertising and tobacco control programs.

“Comprehensive tobacco control programs, such as those in California and Massachusetts, have had a high impact in shifting smoking levels,” Cokkinides said.

These efforts need to be extended to the overweight/obesity epidemic, Cokkinides added.

The proportion of overweight or obese children and adolescents has soared in the United States over the last two decades, the report notes. Among children aged six to 11, rates of overweight and obesity rose from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 15.8 percent in 2002; among youth 12 to 19 years old, it almost tripled, from 5 percent to 16.1 percent.

Much of the problem can be attributed to sedentary behavior, with 38 percent of high-school students watching at least three hours of television a day and only 38.4 percent of students enrolled in daily physical education classes.

Skin cancer is also largely preventable, yet only 15 percent of high-school students say they use sunscreen when in the sun for more than an hour, the report stated.

Smoking rates in adults has also declined, but not enough, according to the report, which finds 25.2 percent of men and 20.7 percent of women still addicted to cigarettes. Overall, 45.8 million Americans currently smoke.

American adults are getting heavier, too. In 2002, about two-thirds of adults were overweight and almost one-third were obese. Again, much of this can be attributed to too little physical activity and poor eating habits. Only 23.5 percent report eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day while just 45.4 percent get the recommended amount of exercise.

Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer and may also help protect against endometrial and prostate cancer. People who have a diet high in fruits and vegetables also seem to have a reduced incidence of cancers of the mouth and pharynx, esophagus, lung, stomach, kidney, colon and rectum, according to the ACS.

Screening is the other major way to decrease the risk of certain cancers. While screening for different cancers has increased, it is still not at optimal rates. Colorectal cancer screening is the most notable example. Only 39 percent of U.S. adults over 50 get this recommended screen.

“Both cervical and colon cancer can be prevented through screening,” Blum said. “The message just doesn’t get any clearer and yet the screening rates for colon cancer are low.”

Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, in Baton Rouge, agreed. “Screening tests for breast, colon, prostate, skin and cervical are all very easily affordable and attainable by most people,” he said. “As a cancer specialist, my goal is to try to prevent people from ever seeing me.”

Brooks added that it costs about $6,000 to maintain a car for five years. Following ACS guidelines for doctor’s visits and life-saving screening would cost about $2,500 over that amount of time, before insurance, he said.

The next frontier in cancer prevention is to take some of the successes in tobacco control and see if they can be replicated to combat overweight and obesity.

“We have made a lot of progress with smoking reduction,” Cokkinides said. “We need to do the same for nutrition and physical activity so we can impact obesity. Obesity needs the most work.”

March, 2005|Archive|

Vaccine Injected Directly Into Cancer Appears Promising for Head and Neck Cancer

  • 3/31/2005
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • cancerconsultants.com

According to a recently completed clinical trial, a vaccine that is injected directly into the site(s) of cancer produces promising results in patients with head and neck cancer who have stopped responding to standard therapies.

Approximately 40,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with head and neck cancer every year. Cancers of the head and neck comprise several types of cancer, including the nasal cavity and sinuses, oral cavity, nasopharynx, oropharynx, and other sites located in the head and neck area. Once the cancer stops responding to standard therapeutic approaches, which typically consists of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, it is referred to as “refractory”. Patients with refractory head and neck cancer currently have very limited effective treatment options, with overall survival being dismal in this group of patients. There are currently no treatment modalities that have demonstrated an improvement in survival in the treatment of refractory head and neck cancer. Several clinical trials are underway to evaluate novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of this disease.

A novel vaccine Proxinium™ recently completed an early-phase clinical trial in the evaluation of advanced head and neck cancer. Proxinium™ is comprised of a monoclonal antibody, which is a protein that is targeted against and binds to a specific component of a cell. The monoclonal antibody portion of Proxinium™ is targeted against EpCAM, a molecule that is often highly expressed in head and neck cancer cells. Proxinium™ also contains the toxin produced by the bacterium Pseudomonas. When the monoclonal antibody portion of the vaccine binds to a cell, the toxin is delivered to the cancer cell and causes its death. Proxinium™ has recently been granted orphan drug designation by the Food and Drug Administration, and previous clinical trials have demonstrated a trend toward improved survival in patients with head and neck cancer.

The recent clinical trial evaluating Proxinium™ included 16 patients with head and neck cancer that had stopped responding to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These patients had cancer that expressed EpCAM, the target of Proxinium™. Overall, 25% of patients achieved a complete disappearance of detectable cancer and 63% had a partial shrinkage of the cancer that was injected with Proxinium™. Overall, 88% of patients achieved a benefit from Proxinium™, defined as either a shrinkage of their cancer or disease stabilization. Treatment with Proxinium™ was well tolerated. Updated results, including survival data, will be presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Florida in May.

The researchers concluded that Proxinium™ provides a high rate of anti-cancer responses in patients with refractory head and neck cancer. Updated survival data will help determine the clinical effectiveness of this vaccine, as well as results from future clinical trials. Patients with advanced head and neck cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating Proxinium™ or other promising therapeutic approaches.

March, 2005|Archive|

Chesapeake, Va. Cancer Survivor Leads Benefit Walk to Focus Attention on Early Detection

  • 3/30/2005
  • Chesapeake, VA
  • U.S. Newswire

Chesapeake, Va. resident Minnie Ashworth, who successfully battled oral cancer two years ago, wants fewer people to have to withstand the ordeal she survived. She has joined a national effort to reduce the death rate from the disease, which can be conquered if caught in its early stages.

A Walk for Awareness will take place Saturday, April 9, at Chesapeake City Park in Chesapeake, Va. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation – Web: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org

Event Includes Free, Fast, and Painless Oral Cancer Screenings

During the fund-raising walk, doctors from the VCU School of Dentistry and from the Eastern Virginia Medical School will conduct free oral cancer screenings. These quick and painless examinations of the mouth, if conducted as part of everyone’s annual dental exam, could dramatically reduce the number of deaths from oral cancer. 30,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the US, and it kills almost 9,000 Americans annually. The five-year survival rate is only about 50 percent. Early detection would drastically reduce the death rate.

It was a dentist who raised the alarm when Ashworth told him her gum still hadn’t healed long after she’d had a tooth extracted. The dentist immediately referred Ashworth to an oral surgeon, whose biopsy revealed cancer. Ashworth underwent radiation to shrink the tumor, then surgery to remove half her lower jaw, which was reconstructed using bone from her lower leg. During her recovery, Ashworth discovered the Oral Cancer Foundation’s web site, and used its educational section and discussion forums to research her condition, and get support from others. Now healed from her treatments, she has begun to participate in the forums again — this time as a survivor giving back advice and support of her own to those newly diagnosed.

Given the statistics associated with this cancer, Ashworth knows she is lucky; she’s back to her 1,000-mile-a-minute life as a cheer organization coach, wife, mother of eight, and grandmother of three. On top of it all, she’s organizing the OCF’s Walk for Awareness. Among the walkers will be fellow survivors with whom Ashworth corresponded on the Oral Cancer Foundation’s online forums.

“It’s amazing to see a woman who’s undergone as much as Minnie has, and whose life is as busy as hers, work so hard to raise awareness about this deadly disease,” says Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation, and himself an oral cancer survivor. “Her desire to give something back now that she has survived the cancer will help thousands of others.” The Oral Cancer Foundation works nationally to raise awareness about the disease and promote annual screenings for early detection.

In addition to the walk and oral cancer screenings, the Walk for Awareness will feature a variety of booths where besides the usual T-shirts and pins, information about the risk factors, and warning signs and symptoms for oral cancer will be distributed to participants. Registrations will begin at 8 a.m., and the walk at 9 a.m. The event will end at approximately 3 p.m. For information, call 757-962-3709.

About the Oral Cancer Foundation

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national non-profit 501(c) 3, public service charity that provides information, support, and advocacy related to this disease. It maintains a web site at http://www.oralcancer.org that receives over 15 million hits per month. At the forefront of this year’s agenda is the drive to promote solid awareness in the minds of the American public about the risk factors and warning signs of early oral cancer, and the need to undergo an annual oral cancer screening, with an outreach to the dental and medical community to provide this service as a matter of routine practice. Supporting the foundation’s goals is a scientific advisory board composed of leading cancer authorities from varied medical and dental specialties, and from prominent cancer educational, treatment, and research institutions in the United States.

March, 2005|OCF In The News|

Chesapeake, Va. Cancer Survivor Leads Benefit Walk to Focus Attention on Early Detection

  • 3/30/2005
  • Chesapeake, VA
  • U.S. Newswire

Chesapeake, Va. resident Minnie Ashworth, who successfully battled oral cancer two years ago, wants fewer people to have to withstand the ordeal she survived. She has joined a national effort to reduce the death rate from the disease, which can be conquered if caught in its early stages.

A Walk for Awareness will take place Saturday, April 9, at Chesapeake City Park in Chesapeake, Va. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation – Web: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org

Event Includes Free, Fast, and Painless Oral Cancer Screenings

During the fund-raising walk, doctors from the VCU School of Dentistry and from the Eastern Virginia Medical School will conduct free oral cancer screenings. These quick and painless examinations of the mouth, if conducted as part of everyone’s annual dental exam, could dramatically reduce the number of deaths from oral cancer. 30,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the US, and it kills almost 9,000 Americans annually. The five-year survival rate is only about 50 percent. Early detection would drastically reduce the death rate.

It was a dentist who raised the alarm when Ashworth told him her gum still hadn’t healed long after she’d had a tooth extracted. The dentist immediately referred Ashworth to an oral surgeon, whose biopsy revealed cancer. Ashworth underwent radiation to shrink the tumor, then surgery to remove half her lower jaw, which was reconstructed using bone from her lower leg. During her recovery, Ashworth discovered the Oral Cancer Foundation’s web site, and used its educational section and discussion forums to research her condition, and get support from others. Now healed from her treatments, she has begun to participate in the forums again — this time as a survivor giving back advice and support of her own to those newly diagnosed.

Given the statistics associated with this cancer, Ashworth knows she is lucky; she’s back to her 1,000-mile-a-minute life as a cheer organization coach, wife, mother of eight, and grandmother of three. On top of it all, she’s organizing the OCF’s Walk for Awareness. Among the walkers will be fellow survivors with whom Ashworth corresponded on the Oral Cancer Foundation’s online forums.

“It’s amazing to see a woman who’s undergone as much as Minnie has, and whose life is as busy as hers, work so hard to raise awareness about this deadly disease,” says Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation, and himself an oral cancer survivor. “Her desire to give something back now that she has survived the cancer will help thousands of others.” The Oral Cancer Foundation works nationally to raise awareness about the disease and promote annual screenings for early detection.

In addition to the walk and oral cancer screenings, the Walk for Awareness will feature a variety of booths where besides the usual T-shirts and pins, information about the risk factors, and warning signs and symptoms for oral cancer will be distributed to participants. Registrations will begin at 8 a.m., and the walk at 9 a.m. The event will end at approximately 3 p.m. For information, call 757-962-3709.

About the Oral Cancer Foundation

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national non-profit 501(c) 3, public service charity that provides information, support, and advocacy related to this disease. It maintains a web site at http://www.oralcancer.org that receives over 15 million hits per month. At the forefront of this year’s agenda is the drive to promote solid awareness in the minds of the American public about the risk factors and warning signs of early oral cancer, and the need to undergo an annual oral cancer screening, with an outreach to the dental and medical community to provide this service as a matter of routine practice. Supporting the foundation’s goals is a scientific advisory board composed of leading cancer authorities from varied medical and dental specialties, and from prominent cancer educational, treatment, and research institutions in the United States.

March, 2005|Archive|

Look beyond the smoke

  • 3/30/2005
  • Tempe, AR
  • Summer Robertson
  • www.asuwebdevil.com

It’s a sign of the times. Kids are getting a lot more street smart. When they see an advertisement that reads: “Free money!” they begin to ask questions. The majority of us know it’s just another ploy from some not-so-creative advertisers. The same goes with movies. If someone tells you to see a movie about which you know nothing, you’re going to ask why.

So why aren’t the same questions being asked when it involves something more dangerous, say, hookah? Sure, opponents of smoking have televised ads that tell you to say no. But most of the time, they are so short that they don’t say why. Or they will tell you the same old information: Tobacco may cause cancer, discoloration of the teeth, etc.

But there’s a reason to say no. So before you go out and buy your own hookah, perhaps you should take a few things into account.

Hookah and shisha have been around for ages, originating in the Middle East. Because it is relatively new to the U.S., there have been next to no studies done on it. A lot of people are under the misconception hookah is healthier than cigarettes.

Although hookah waters down tobacco, it doesn’t water down the effects tobacco has on your body. Your lung tissue will still be damaged, and you will be more susceptible to smoking-related diseases such as lung, throat and mouth cancer.

Another misconception is that hookah contains far less tobacco and nicotine than cigarettes because the smoke is filtered through water. This is also wrong. In a study done by Dr. H. A. Hajar (a name more familiar in Europe than here) from the Office of the Minister of Health in Qatar, it was found that 10 grams of treacled tobacco (with molasses) — the average amount in a bowl of hookah — had nicotine equivalent to nearly 50 cigarettes.

So whether you suck on a hose every day or once a week, whether you have a whole bowl to yourself, half a bowl or share with a small group, you could still be taking in the same amount of nicotine as a regular cigarette smoker.

In Arabia, a study found narghile (hookah) has an even higher amount of carbon monoxide than cigarettes, by 15 percent to 20 percent. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas and is the same toxin released from burning gasoline.

When inhaled, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in your body that the hemoglobin in your blood carries. When your heart doesn’t receive enough oxygen, it speeds up to try to make up for it. If carbon monoxide is still inhaled, it can lead to breathing difficulty, cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma and death.

If you’re one of those “it won’t happen to me” people, this information probably won’t faze you — not until you’re in the hospital on a breathing machine being told your options are running out and your chemotherapy bill has exceeded $70,000.

If you are one of those people who likes to rationalize everything — telling yourself you don’t do it enough for it to be harmful — this information probably won’t hit you until 20 years from now when you’re married with kids, coming out of your annual checkup and being told they found a spot on your lungs roughly the size of a nickel that looks like cancer.

These situations are real, and whether you think they will happen to you won’t change anything. Hookah is no better than cigarettes, whether you choose to believe it or not.

So before you succumb to peer pressure, before you read articles in The State Press that solicit buying your own hookah, before you get caught up in the most popular new import from overseas, try looking before you leap.

It’s not as healthy as people say. It’s not an alternative to cigarettes. And it’s not going to leave your body without harming it. If you want to dig your own grave, that’s fine. But at least now you’ll do it knowingly.

March, 2005|Archive|

April is Oral Health Month

  • 3/30/2005
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Newswire Canada (www.newswire.ca)

Stick out your tongue at your dentist. It’s good for your health!

A visit to your dentist is good for your health and well-being. That is the message being delivered to Ontario communities by the Ontario Dental Association in April, which is Oral Heath Month.

This year, ODA-member dentists are undertaking a wide range of programs across the province. An important element is the ODA’s oral cancer awareness program which is designed to raise public awareness of a potentially fatal disease. Last year, there were more than 3,100 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed nationally, accounting for approximately 2.1 percent of all new cancer cases in Canada.

To reach younger audiences, the ODA and ODA-member dentists are also
sponsoring the Brush-a-mania challenge designed to improve the oral health habits of elementary school students.
“No matter what your age, oral health is important to your overall
health,” said Dr. Steve Goren, President of the Ontario Dental Association. “Dentists are part of your primary health-care team.”

This year, the ODA’s oral cancer awareness efforts include an outdoor
advertising campaign in 11 Ontario communities to increase public awareness. This disease has a greater mortality rate than either breast cancer or prostate cancer. ODA-member dentists are also conducting oral cancer checks at select shopping malls across the province.

For schoolchildren, the ODA is teaming up with the Rotary Club and the
Toronto Dental Academy to bring the Brush-a-mania program to about 35,000 students at 120 elementary schools throughout Ontario. Its purpose is to educate and motivate children, and to bring together dentists, Rotarians, teachers and parents about oral health care at a fun and educational school event. Brush-a-mania launches on April 8 in most participating schools.

To lean more about these programs and other Oral Health Month activities in your local area, contact the Ontario Dental Association, or visit the Ontario Dental Association web site: www.oda.on.ca.

The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) and its 6,400 members are committed to providing exemplary oral health care. The ODA is a voluntary professional association representing more than 80 percent of Ontario dentists. As Ontario’s primary source of information on dental health and the profession, the ODA has been enhancing public awareness of the importance of oral health since 1867. The ODA works with health-care professionals, governments and the private sector to attain the highest possible quality standards of health care
for Ontarians.

ORAL CANCER INFORMATION

The oral cancer examination performed by your dentist during a routine
dental visit is a fast, easy and painless way to detect cancer early and save your life.
Did you know?

– Recent studies show that oral cancer is rising in women, young
people and non-smokers. More than 25 percent of oral cancers occur
in people who do not smoke and have no other risk factors.
– Smoking and chewing tobacco are major risk factors for oral cancer.
Dentists are involved in clinical tobacco intervention programs and
can recommend a variety of programs and prescribe medication to
assist their patients who wish to quit.
– Normally, the cells of the mouth are quite resistant to damage.
However, the ODA wants people to be aware that repeated injury
from smoking and alcohol may cause sores or painful areas where
cancer can start. If left untreated, oral cancer has the potential
to spread to the lymph nodes and lungs.
– The five-year survival rate for oral cancer is low, at just below
50 percent. However, early detection results in the five-year
survival increasing sharply to 80 percent.

March, 2005|Archive|