Monthly Archives: November 2007

Actress Colleen Zenk Pinter Partners with the Oral Cancer Foundation to Raise Public Awareness

Two time Emmy nominated actress Colleen Zenk Pinter, best known for her long running role as Barbara Ryan on CBS’s As the World Turns, has teamed up with the Oral Cancer Foundation to share the story of her battle against oral cancer, and raise public awareness of a disease which kills more Americans each year than more commonly known cancers.

Zenk Pinter’s first stop was CBS’s The Early Show. In an interview with co-anchor Hannah Storm, Zenk Pinter revealed how a seemingly stubborn canker sore turned out to be a stage-two malignant oral cancer, requiring several surgeries to reconstruct her tongue, and months of radiation treatments. Zenk Pinter explained to Storm that she believes that her cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus. “I had absolutely none of the historic risk factors for this cancer, I never used tobacco and only drank socially,” she said, referring to the two other common causes of the disease.

“In fact, young Americans who have none of the historic risk factors are the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients in the country,” Brian Hill, executive director of the Oral Cancer Foundation says, “and we believe the culprit behind the surge in cases is HPV16, the same virus that causes cervical cancer.”

Dr. Mark Lingen, Professor of Pathology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine says, “Colleen was very typical of most Americans in their lack of knowledge of oral cancer. Awareness and routine screening is particularly important, since early discovery is directly correlated to positive outcomes from treatment.” HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. At least 50 percent of American adults will acquire the virus at some point in their lives. HPV16, one of the most destructive strains of the virus, was definitively linked to oral cancer in 2001. Research has also established that the virus, which can easily be transferred, may even be a more significant risk factor than tobacco in the younger portion of the population.

“Colleen is an amazing woman”, said Hill. “Even BEFORE she had begun her treatments for the cancer, she contacted me and wanted to become an advocate for early detection and increased awareness. She was clearly taken by surprise to have developed this cancer. Most people at that point in the process are only thinking of themselves, and getting through the really tough treatments successfully. Her willingness to talk publicly about her very personal and painful battle with oral cancer is certainly courageous, and the desire to help others is palpable when you speak with her. Her story and high profile celebrity as a well-known TV actress will have enormous impact educating the public about this deadly and disfiguring disease. This is one of the purest examples of altruistic, celebrity power being used to better other people’s lives. We are lucky to have this partnership with Colleen.”

Now cancer-free, Zenk Pinter urged viewers of The Early Show to get regular oral cancer screenings. “Your dentist should be doing an oral cancer exam at every visit,” Zenk Pinter said. “It’s a simple 5 minute, painless exam that may save your life.”

The Early Show was only the first of what is on the public awareness schedule for Zenk Pinter. A recent interview with Soap Opera Digest is already on the newsstands, and interviews with other magazines have been scheduled. In December she will film a TV Public Service Announcement on the need for early detection through annual screenings. OCF will distribute the PSA to TV stations across the country at the beginning of 2008.

About Colleen Zenk Pinter

Ms. Zenk Pinter has worked professionally since the age of nine as an actress. Besides her long time association with As the World Turns, in which she has appeared in over 250 episodes, Colleen made her Broadway debut in Bring Back Birdie. Her film debut was in John Huston’s adaptation of Annie. Her benevolent and philanthropic association with health causes is not new, and for decades she has donated time to work with the Easter Seals, the March of Dimes, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Bread to Roses, one of the first AIDS hospice programs. For more information about Colleen’s background, go to http://www.astheworldturns.net

The Oral Cancer Foundation, founded in 2000, is a national non-profit charity based in California. The foundation advocates for better public understanding of the disease and engages the medical and dental communities to be more involved in early detection. The foundation maintains a Web site with information for patients, the public, and health care providers at www.oralcancerfoundation.org. It is supported through tax-deductible public donations which can be made at http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/membership/membership.htm.

November, 2007|OCF In The News|

Speaking Out

  • 11/28/2007
  • web-based article
  • Jennifer Lenhart
  • www.soapoperadigest.com

Long running TV show As the World Turn’s Colleen Zenk Pinter (character Barbara Ryan) spoke about her battle with tongue cancer in Digest’s 11/27 issue, but her main goal is to encourage everyone to get screened. It’s a quick, completely painless procedure. “You should demand a cancer screening from your denist,” she advises. “They’ll look in your mouth and feel down inside your jaw bone, outside and inside, upper and lower, they’ll look at your tongue and throat.” Here, she talks more about her initial diagnosis, and when she first decided to share her story.

Soap Opera Digest: How did this all begin?
Colleen Zenk Pinter: I first noticed it last summer, so it’s been over a year now. [I constantly had] canker sores coming and going last summer into last fall. They finally stopped going away and started getting larger — you know how painful one is, these were multiplying. I said, “This isn’t right,” and that’s when I called my physician to get my yearly, thinking I could get in right away, forgetting that it takes a while to book something like that. I called the second week of November and he couldn’t get me in until the first week of January. I had actually talked to Eldo [Ray Estes, ATWT’s key makeup artist] at work about it. I had shown him and said, ‘I’m dealing with this nasty thing that won’t go away.’ So I went in and saw my doctor, got my physical. All of my numbers, my blood work, my cholesterol, my iron, everything was in great shape. I was a really healthy 54-year-old who has boundless energy. I overbook myself all the time, as my mother tells me. I said to the doctor, “Take a look at this.” And he said, “I don’t like it. You’re going to go see a maxillofacial specialist tomorrow.” … [The specialist] said, “I think you have a combination of a fungal and bacterial infection, so let’s treat you for that.” It was an antibiotic, a big bottle of orange medicine. And it started working and it got better. I would go back and see him every single week for five weeks. And then it stopped working. [What was left was the tumor.] Usually, you don’t know what’s going on inside of your mouth. By the time I went into surgery, if I stuck my tongue out, you could see the right side was about twice as big as the left, and the tumor went way to the back. You could feel the entire thing. But who goes around feeling their tongue?

Digest: What did it feel like?
Pinter: Hard, and it was elongated and fat.

Digest: Is that why the sores kept coming and going?
Pinter: They don’t know.

Digest: But you hadn’t really felt it before.
Pinter: I didn’t actually feel my tongue until after I got the diagnosis. So at that point, he said, “I think we need to do a biopsy.” So he put me under a general anesthetic in the office. Mark [Pinter, her husband, ex-Grant, AW et al] was there with me, and then he had to go to California. Unfortunately, he was going to be gone for [daughter] Georgia’s 14th birthday, but [daughter] Kelsey came home and I said, “I want you to come with me to see [the doctor]. I love him; I think he’s a fabulous doctor.” As I was walking out of the house, the phone rang. I let it go through to voicemail; it was a nurse [at the cancer center] saying, “We just wanted to let you know that the doctor has scheduled you for an appointment on Wednesday,” which was two days later. I thought, “Okay.” I already knew at that point. So when we got to the office, the doctor was there and the room was full of all of his nurses, who I knew really well at that point … I won’t go into all of that because it was so wild and wacky the next couple of days, but when all of a sudden you get a diagnosis like this and they say, “Don’t go home and get on the Internet,” you go home and get on the Internet. I knew it was cancer. I knew it was Stage 2. And that was pretty much all I knew … Luckily, one of the first sites I found was www.oralcancerfoundation.org. The week before I went into my first surgery was when I contacted Brian Hill of the Oral Cancer Foundation. I left him a very lengthy voicemail, not thinking that this man who was the head of the foundation would call me back. At that point, I didn’t know he was a Stage 4 cancer survivor. But he called back and thus began our association. I said, “I want to do something. Tell me what I can do.” He said, “That’s great, but you’re way ahead of yourself.” I said the same thing to my group [of doctors] at Yale and they said, “You’ve got to get through and then figure out if you want to do something.” So it was when I got back from doing [Stephen Sondheim’s] Follies [in Sullivan, IL] that I decided to speak about it.

Digest: What has the response been like?
Pinter: The outpouring of understanding and love and encouragement that I have felt, from not just the fans but people who have found out about this and have had family members or they themselves have gone through it, the support has been overwhelming. It’s all, “Thank you for getting it out there. Thank you for saying something, speaking up.” That’s all it’s about.

November, 2007|OCF In The News|

CT Scans Raise Cancer Risk

  • 11/28/2007
  • web-based article
  • Marilynn Marchione
  • apnews.myway.com

Millions of Americans, especially children, are needlessly getting dangerous radiation from “super X-rays” that raise the risk of cancer and are increasingly used to diagnose medical problems, a new report warns.

In a few decades, as many as 2 percent of all cancers in the United States might be due to radiation from CT scans given now, according to the authors of the report.

Some experts say that estimate is overly alarming. But they agree with the need to curb these tests particularly in children, who are more susceptible to radiation and more likely to develop cancer from it.

“There are some serious concerns about the methodology used,” but the authors “have brought to attention some real serious potential public health issues,” said Dr. Arl Van Moore, head of the American College of Radiology’s board of chancellors.

The risk from a single CT, or computed tomography, scan to an individual is small. But “we are very concerned about the built-up public health risk over a long period of time,” said Eric J. Hall, who wrote the report with fellow Columbia University medical physicist David J. Brenner.

It was published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine and paid for by federal grants.

The average American’s total radiation exposure has nearly doubled since 1980, largely because of CT scans. Medical radiation now accounts for more than half of the population’s total exposure; it used to be just one-sixth, and the top source was the normal background rate in the environment, from things like radon in soil and cosmic energy from the sun.

A previous study by the same scientists in 2001 led the federal Food and Drug Administration to recommend ways to limit scans and risks in children.

But CT use continued to soar. About 62 million scans were done in the U.S. last year, up from 3 million in 1980. More than 4 million were in children.

Since previous studies suggest that a third of all diagnostic tests are unnecessary, that means that 20 million adults and more than 1 million children getting CT scans are needlessly being put at risk, Brenner and Hall write.

Ultrasound and MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, scans often are safer options that do not expose people to radiation, they contend.

CT scans became popular because they offer a quick, relatively cheap and painless way to get 3D pictures so detailed they give an almost surgical view into the body. Doctors use them to evaluate trauma, belly pain, seizures, chronic headaches, kidney stones and other woes, especially in busy emergency rooms. In kids, they are used to diagnose or rule out appendicitis.

But they put out a lot of radiation. A CT scan of the chest involves 10 to 15 millisieverts (a measure of dose) versus 0.01 to 0.15 for a regular chest X-ray, 3 for a mammogram and a mere 0.005 for a dental X-ray.

The dose depends on the type of machine and the person – obese people require more radiation than slim ones – and the risk accumulates over a lifetime.

“Medical care in this country is naturally so fragmented. Any one doctor is not going to be aware of the fact that a particular patient has had three or four CT scans at some point in the past,” said Dr. Michael Lauer, prevention chief at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

People with chronic problems like kidney stones are likely to get too many scans, said Dr. Fred Mettler, radiology chief in the New Mexico Veterans Administration health care system.

“I’ve seen people who are 30 years old who have had at least 18 scans done,” he said.

That puts them at risk of developing radiation-induced cancer, Brenner and Hall said. They base this on studies of thousands of Japanese atomic bomb survivors who had excess cancer risk after exposures of 50 to 150 millisieverts – the equivalent of several big CT scans.

“That’s very controversial. There’s a large portion of the medical physics community that would disagree with that” comparison, said Richard Morin, a medical physicist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.However, others defended the data, which has been widely cited in other radiation studies.

“It’s the best evidence we’ve got” on cancer risks, Lauer said.

Dr. Robert Smith, the American Cancer Society’s director of screening, said the authors’ estimate that 2 percent of future cancers may be due to CT scans “seems high.” But since cancers take 10 to 20 years to develop, “the ability to even observe that kind of an increase is going to be very difficult,” he said.

The authors stressed that they were not trying to scare people who need CT scans away from having them. In most cases, the benefits exceed the risks, especially for diagnostic scans.

However, using the scans to screen people with no symptoms of illness – like screening smokers for signs of lung cancer – has not been shown to save lives and is not currently recommended.

Many groups also condemn whole-body scans, often peddled by private practitioners in shopping centers as peace of mind to the worried well. Many of these centers are not accredited by the College of Radiology; only a third of all places that do CT scans in the U.S. are, although insurers are starting to require it for reimbursement, Moore said.

Many CT centers also are set up for adults and rarely image children, who need adjustments to limit dose and radiation risk, said Dr. Alan Brody, a radiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who wrote a report on the topic. He said parents should seek a center that often handles children.

Both doctors and patients need to be more aware of radiation risks and discuss them openly, Brenner and Hall said.

“We were astonished to find, when we were researching materials for this paper, how many doctors, particularly emergency room physicians, really had no idea of the magnitude of the doses or the potential risks that were involved,” Hall said.

Other studies found the opposite problem: Three out of 10 parents in one study insisted on CT scans instead of observing the child’s condition for awhile even after they were told of the radiation risk, Brody said.

“This is what our patients want,” and they expect fast answers from doctors, he said.

The pressure is greatest for ER doctors who “are in a bind … they have all these patients stacked up” and need to make quick decisions, Mettler said.

Future generations of devices using less radiation should help alleviate the concern, but these mostly are directed at the emerging field of heart scans, Lauer said.

“When we order a CT scan it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal” but it should be, he said. “The threshold for ordering these tests is low and it’s getting lower and lower over time, which means that the risks become potentially all that more important.”

November, 2007|Archive|

Researchers At UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center Report Smoking Marijuana May Increase Risk Of Head And Neck Cancers

  • 11/28/2007
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • staff
  • ScienceDaily (www.sciencedaily.com)

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center are reporting, for the first time, that smoking marijuana may increase the risk of head and neck cancers.

Previous laboratory and clinical studies have indicated that marijuana use may be related to molecular alterations in the respiratory tract, changes that may lead to cancer. This is the first study to examine whether smoking marijuana increases risk of head and neck cancers, said Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the UCLA School of Public Health and director of the cancer epidemiology training program at UCLA.

“Most people don’t think about marijuana in relationship to cancer,” said Zhang, lead author of the journal article. “The carcinogens in marijuana are much stronger than those in tobacco. The big message here is that marijuana, like tobacco, can cause cancer.”

Zhang studied the relationship between marijuana use and head and neck cancers in 173 patients diagnosed with those diseases. He compared those findings to 176 cancer-free control patients, and found that those who habitually smoked marijuana were at higher risk for head and neck cancers.

The epidemiological data was collected using a structured questionnaire, which queried patients about their histories of tobacco smoking, marijuana smoking and alcohol use. Zhang said researchers were able to evaluate the data on marijuana smoking independently from data on tobacco smoking and alcohol use, which also increase the risk of certain cancers.

The results of the study are particularly important now, Zhang said, as habitual marijuana smokers from the 1960s reach older ages. Because head and neck cancers — cancers of the mouth, tongue, larynx and pharynx — take many years to develop, people who smoked large amounts of marijuana in the 1960s may just now be contracting head and neck cancers, Zhang said.

“In the ’60s, we had very high numbers of people in their 20s smoking marijuana,” Zhang said. “These people are just now getting to the ages at which they will get head and neck cancers. This is the time to study a risk like this.”

The more times per day a person smokes marijuana, the greater his or her risk of head and neck cancers, according to the study. Additionally, people who use marijuana habitually for many years also increase their risk of head and neck cancers, Zhang said.

“If you smoke a little, your risk increases a little,” Zhang said. “If you smoke a lot, your risk increases a lot.”

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, Zhang said. It is estimated that about 31 percent of the U.S. population 12 years or older has used marijuana, according to the journal article.

Zhang’s research builds on previous studies of marijuana and cancer risk. An article by UCLA cancer researchers published in the Aug. 19, 1998, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute stated that habitual smoking of marijuana and crack cocaine causes the same kinds of molecular changes that precede the development of lung cancer in cigarette smokers.

“Now we have evidence that may link marijuana smoking to head and neck cancers,” Zhang said. “Many people may think marijuana is harmless, but it’s not.”

In addition, the epidemiological study and the subsequent journal article also touch on the interplay between marijuana smoking and the genetic defect that prevents DNA from repairing itself. Some marijuana smokers with this genetic defect might not have the ability to repair DNA damage prompted by the habit. Zhang said these people are about 16 times more likely to develop head and neck cancers than non-marijuana smokers whose DNA repair function is operating normally.

Zhang said larger epidemiological studies are needed to replicate the results obtained by UCLA cancer researchers. One such study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is being conducted now at UCLA.

Source:
Adapted from materials provided by University Of California, Los Angeles Health Sciences.

November, 2007|Archive|

Drinking And Smoking Don’t Boost HPV-related Cancer Risk

  • 11/28/2007
  • web-based article
  • staff
  • ScienceDaily (www.sciencedaily.com)

Heavy smoking and drinking are known to cause head and neck cancer. Infection with human papilloma virus type 16 (HPV16), a common strain of the sexually-transmitted HPV virus, is another known risk factor for head and neck cancer, which affects about 500,000 people each year worldwide.

New Brown University research, however, shows that alcohol and tobacco use doesn’t further increase the risk of contracting head and neck cancers for people infected with HPV16. This finding, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the strongest evidence to date that these major cancers have two distinct causes — and may represent two distinct classes of cancer — and would require different prevention and treatment strategies.

Karl Kelsey, M.D., a Brown professor of community health and pathology and laboratory medicine and the director of the Center for Environmental Health and Technology, said the research has public health policy implications.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls and young women receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer — HPV16 causes about half of all cervical cancer cases — boys and men cannot get the vaccine. An estimated 20 million Americans are currently infected with genital HPV and 50 to 75 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Our current HPV vaccine recommendations should change,” Kelsey said. “Head and neck cancers, regardless of their cause, are predominantly male diseases. If boys and men received the HPV vaccine, a lot of these cancers could be prevented.”

Kelsey and his team took on the research to test the concept of multiplicative risk. If HPV infection increases the risk of head and neck cancer, and alcohol and tobacco use also increases the risk, would a combination increase that risk exponentially?

To find out, the team studied 485 head and neck cancer patients who were diagnosed at nine Boston-area hospitals between December 1999 and December 2003. The team also studied 549 cancer-free comparison subjects who were closely matched with the study group based on age, sex and town of residence.

All the test subjects were asked about lifetime smoking and alcohol consumption and also gave a blood sample, which was screened for HPV16 antibodies, a sign that they were exposed to this strain of the virus. The team then conducted a statistical analysis to estimate the effects of the different risk factors.

The results: Smoking and drinking didn’t add to the risk of head and neck cancer for subjects exposed to HPV16. The strongest risk factors, by tumor site, were smoking for cancer of the larynx, alcohol with mouth cancer, and HPV infection with throat cancer.

“We have a profound bit of evidence that HPV16-associated head and neck cancer is a very different disease,” Kelsey said. “Under a microscope, it looks like the same cancer you get from smoking and drinking. But how you get this form of the disease — and how you would prevent and treat it — is quite different.”

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, which includes nearly all head and neck cancer, afflicts about 45,000 people each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society, and costs an estimated $3.2 billion to treat.

“There is a huge prevention message here, which is that we could protect a lot of people from cancer if men and boys could get the HPV vaccine,” Kelsey said. “We should start testing this vaccine on men.”

The rest of the research team included Katie Applebaum and C. Sloan Furniss of the Harvard School of Public Health; Ariana Zeka of the University of Brunel in London; Marshall Posner of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Judith Smith and Janine Bryan of Merck and Co.; Ellen Eisen of the Harvard School of Public Health; Edward Peters of the Harvard School of Public Health and Louisiana State University; and Michael McClean of Boston University. The National Cancer Institute funded the work.

Source:
Adapted from materials provided by Brown University.

November, 2007|Archive|

Speaking Out

  • 11/28/2007
  • web-based article
  • Jennifer Lenhart
  • www.soapopoeradigest.com

Long running TV show As the World Turn’s Colleen Zenk Pinter (character Barbara Ryan) spoke about her battle with tongue cancer in Digest’s 11/27 issue, but her main goal is to encourage everyone to get screened. It’s a quick, completely painless procedure. “You should demand a cancer screening from your denist,” she advises. “They’ll look in your mouth and feel down inside your jaw bone, outside and inside, upper and lower, they’ll look at your tongue and throat.” Here, she talks more about her initial diagnosis, and when she first decided to share her story.

Soap Opera Digest: How did this all begin?
Colleen Zenk Pinter: I first noticed it last summer, so it’s been over a year now. [I constantly had] canker sores coming and going last summer into last fall. They finally stopped going away and started getting larger — you know how painful one is, these were multiplying. I said, “This isn’t right,” and that’s when I called my physician to get my yearly, thinking I could get in right away, forgetting that it takes a while to book something like that. I called the second week of November and he couldn’t get me in until the first week of January. I had actually talked to Eldo [Ray Estes, ATWT’s key makeup artist] at work about it. I had shown him and said, ‘I’m dealing with this nasty thing that won’t go away.’ So I went in and saw my doctor, got my physical. All of my numbers, my blood work, my cholesterol, my iron, everything was in great shape. I was a really healthy 54-year-old who has boundless energy. I overbook myself all the time, as my mother tells me. I said to the doctor, “Take a look at this.” And he said, “I don’t like it. You’re going to go see a maxillofacial specialist tomorrow.” … [The specialist] said, “I think you have a combination of a fungal and bacterial infection, so let’s treat you for that.” It was an antibiotic, a big bottle of orange medicine. And it started working and it got better. I would go back and see him every single week for five weeks. And then it stopped working. [What was left was the tumor.] Usually, you don’t know what’s going on inside of your mouth. By the time I went into surgery, if I stuck my tongue out, you could see the right side was about twice as big as the left, and the tumor went way to the back. You could feel the entire thing. But who goes around feeling their tongue?

Digest: What did it feel like?
Pinter: Hard, and it was elongated and fat.

Digest: Is that why the sores kept coming and going?
Pinter: They don’t know.

Digest: But you hadn’t really felt it before.
Pinter: I didn’t actually feel my tongue until after I got the diagnosis. So at that point, he said, “I think we need to do a biopsy.” So he put me under a general anesthetic in the office. Mark [Pinter, her husband, ex-Grant, AW et al] was there with me, and then he had to go to California. Unfortunately, he was going to be gone for [daughter] Georgia’s 14th birthday, but [daughter] Kelsey came home and I said, “I want you to come with me to see [the doctor]. I love him; I think he’s a fabulous doctor.” As I was walking out of the house, the phone rang. I let it go through to voicemail; it was a nurse [at the cancer center] saying, “We just wanted to let you know that the doctor has scheduled you for an appointment on Wednesday,” which was two days later. I thought, “Okay.” I already knew at that point. So when we got to the office, the doctor was there and the room was full of all of his nurses, who I knew really well at that point … I won’t go into all of that because it was so wild and wacky the next couple of days, but when all of a sudden you get a diagnosis like this and they say, “Don’t go home and get on the Internet,” you go home and get on the Internet. I knew it was cancer. I knew it was Stage 2. And that was pretty much all I knew … Luckily, one of the first sites I found was www.oralcancerfoundation.org. The week before I went into my first surgery was when I contacted Brian Hill of the Oral Cancer Foundation. I left him a very lengthy voicemail, not thinking that this man who was the head of the foundation would call me back. At that point, I didn’t know he was a Stage 4 cancer survivor. But he called back and thus began our association. I said, “I want to do something. Tell me what I can do.” He said, “That’s great, but you’re way ahead of yourself.” I said the same thing to my group [of doctors] at Yale and they said, “You’ve got to get through and then figure out if you want to do something.” So it was when I got back from doing [Stephen Sondheim’s] Follies [in Sullivan, IL] that I decided to speak about it.

Digest: What has the response been like?
Pinter: The outpouring of understanding and love and encouragement that I have felt, from not just the fans but people who have found out about this and have had family members or they themselves have gone through it, the support has been overwhelming. It’s all, “Thank you for getting it out there. Thank you for saying something, speaking up.” That’s all it’s about.

November, 2007|Archive|

Armed to the teeth

  • 11/27/2007
  • Napa Valley, CA
  • Betty Rhodes
  • Napa Valley Register (www.napavalleyregister.com)

I have a fascinating article within an article for you today, but before we go there, let’s stop for a moment and give thanks for our many blessings especially at this time of the year. Carrying that thought a step further; we have wonderful opportunities to help give others a bit of our time to help make their lives a little better.

Thanksgiving and Christmas just bring home to all of us the fact that, if possible, we really should step in and help make someone else’s life a little happier. Check the Register’s Sunday Community Bulletin Board for many volunteer opportunities.

Recently, my dentist, Dr. Quinn, was telling me some of the serious consequences that can happen if you exercise careless dental hygiene. I asked him if he would be willing to write down a few things for our column and he graciously agreed to do so.

So, here is Dr. Quinn’s article within an article.

“Dentists often hear the comment, ‘If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of my teeth.’ Even though tooth loss has declined in recent years, still, in the U.S., 26 percent of people 65-69 have lost all of their teeth. Furthermore, 47 percent of the over 65 group have only 20 or fewer teeth remaining.

The value of a healthy mouth goes far beyond a nice smile. The condition of the teeth, gums and bone is a harbinger of the overall health of the individual. There are many ill-health conditions which contribute to poor oral health. Conversely, it is now well documented that poor oral health is a contributing factor to a number of systemic diseases including risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hospital-acquired pneumonia.

As America ages, characteristically we find an increase in medications taken to control certain diseases. Some medications can cause gum inflammation in some people. Also, many medicines cause dry mouth. Less saliva causes concentration of bacteria and food debris which can lead to increased tooth decay and gum disease. Often in older adults there has been some gingival recession, exposing root surfaces. These can be sensitive and more prone to decay than the enamel-covered crown of the tooth, and can be more difficult to restore. Untreated decay is not only unsightly and sensitive, but it can lead to an abscess, i.e. infected pulp (nerve & blood vessels.) Treatment for an abscess is root canal therapy or extraction.

The connection between periodontal disease and heart disease is not well understood. Many researchers believe when infected gum tissue bleeds, bacteria and other oral organisms enter the bloodstream and thereby have access to all body parts. Some areas, i.e. the mitral heart valve, are more susceptible than others, and the bacteria can attach there causing endocarditis, a potentially fatal disease. What makes the gums bleed: Well, cleaning (brushing and flossing) and even chewing, in some instances, is enough to make them bleed.

Healthy gums don’t bleed.

There are as many as 400 organisms that can cause periodontal disease. It begins as gingivitis and can progress to periodontitis involving the jawbone. When the bone is infected, it is “eaten away” resulting in loose teeth, even to the extent of losing them due to lack of support. Additionally, the odor that accompanies this process isn’t pleasant either.

More than 80 percent of diabetes cases in the U.S. are adult onset type 2. That is, more than 650,000 people per year. With delayed healing and possible immunocompromise, controlling infection is a primary concern. There are about 34,360 new cases of oral and throat cancer a year with an estimated 7,550 deaths. Cancer screening should be part of every dental examination. The oral cavity is one of the easiest and most accessible areas to evaluate. Fortunately, most oral cancers are slow growing, so early detection pays huge dividends.

For individuals with full or partial dentures, good oral hygiene practices and at least annual professional examinations are still critically important. For partial dentures, therefore it is necessary to at least rinse them and your mouth each time you eat. Also, prosthetic appliances should be cleaned and left out of the mouth (in most cases) at night. This allows the tissues to ‘rest’ and be bathed in saliva.

Some people with full dentures think they only need to seek help if something breaks. The tissues under the denture can continue to change or shrink. When this occurs, the dentures loosen. Often, using adhesives worsens the situation by ‘holding’ an ill-fitting appliance and accelerating tissue damage. Poor fitting dentures can cause ulcerations or overgrowth of underlying tissue which may require surgical correction. Timely relining of the dentures creates comfort and stability. It is extremely important that the underside of the denture is kept very clean and the gums are cleaned regularly. A gauze wipe or even a wash cloth and mouth rinse works will.

As we age, obviously many changes occur. An important consideration relates to energy and nutritional needs. A varied diet that provides the nutrients; vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. is required. Nutritional counselors are available to recommend personalized regimens. A healthy, comfortable mouth enables the ability to taste and feel the textures that enhance the eating experience.

Dentistry has led the way in the medical field when it comes to prevention. Today, there are many adjuncts available to help prevent problems and maintain health. This ranges from eclectic toothbrushes and irrigators, to various mouth rinses or medicaments for specific conditions. Your dentist can make recommendations for your situation. Remember, especially in dentistry, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… and it’s more economical.

P.S. A nice smile is a social plus.”

Wow. This is a real wake up call. It’s good to be shaken up a little to the fact that very serious consequences can take place if we are careless with dental hygiene. Thank you, Dr. Quinn.

November, 2007|Archive|

Diet, Exercise Better Than Vitamins in Promoting Health

  • 11/26/2007
  • web-based article
  • Rosanne Skirble
  • Voice of America (www.voanews.com)

Exercise and a well-balanced diet far outweigh any health advantage from vitamin supplements. Writing in the November issue of the Harvard University Men’s Health Watch, Harvard Professor Harvey Simon argues against taking pills or powders to promote better health. “There have been careful studies done of many of these supplements, particularly of the antioxidant vitamins and B vitamins which have shown no benefit.”

While it was once hoped that supplements of folic acid could help reduce colon cancer, new research has shown that taking more than the minimum daily requirement would be harmful. Simon says other studies underscore the downside to dietary supplements, which are unregulated in the United States. “The most striking example is beta carotene which we used to be very hopeful about, but actually increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Vitamin E increases the risk of second head-neck cancers in people who have been successfully treated for a first malignancy.”

Simon says that in the quest for a shortcut to better health, the natural function of the body is too often overlooked. Regular exercise can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by 20-30 percent and colon cancer in women by 30-40 percent. Simon notes that the risk of heart disease also dramatically declines with exercise. “There are hundreds of studies that show that people who exercise regularly reduce their risk of coronary artery disease by about 40 percent, (and) also reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension and diabetes.”

Simon recommends cutting all vitamin supplements except for Vitamin D. While it is made by the body when exposed to the sun, he says too much sun exposure can be dangerous because of the risk of potentially deadly skin cancers.

November, 2007|Archive|

Survival analysis and clinical evaluation of implant-retained prostheses in oral cancer resection patients over a mean follow-up period of 10 years

  • 11/26/2007
  • web-based article
  • K Nelson, S Heberer, and C Glatzer
  • J Prosthet Dent, November 1, 2007; 98(5): 405-10

Statement of Problem:
Dental implants have been increasingly used for prosthodontic rehabilitation of patients following oral tumor resection and postsurgical radiotherapy. However, only a few long-term studies have examined the implant survival rate and other factors related to prosthodontic treatment in oral tumor resection patients.

Purpose:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term survival of dental implants and implant-retained prostheses in oral cancer resection patients.

Material and Methods:
Ninety-three patients (63 men, 30 women) with a mean age of 59 years (range of 26-89 years) received 435 implants after the resection of a head and neck tumor. Twenty-nine patients received postsurgical radiotherapy prior to implant placement. The factors related to implant survival or failure were monitored over a mean observation period of 10.3 years (range of 5 to 161 months). Prosthodontic rehabilitation was evaluated with respect to the rates of technical failures and complications. Data were analyzed using a Kaplan-Meier curve and comparisons were made with the log-rank test or the Wilcoxon test (a=.05).

Results:
Of the 435 implants, 43 implants were lost; the cumulative survival rate was 92%, 84%, and 69% after 3.5, 8.5, and 13 years, respectively. Twenty-eight implants in 6 patients were counted as lost since the patients had died. Twenty-nine irradiated patients received 124 implants, of which 6 implants were lost prior to prosthodontic rehabilitation. In 68 patients with 78 rigid bar-retained dentures, only minor technical complications were identified. However, all 25 fixed implant-supported restorations had no technical component failures and did not require technical maintenance.

Conclusion:
This study demonstrates that implant-retained and -supported prostheses in oral cancer resection patients, irrespective of the cancer treatment procedure, show lower long-term survival rates than those in patients without prior cancer surgery. Rigid fixation of the implant-supported prosthesis appears to minimize the complication rates. The poor implant survival rate was due to the higher mortality rate among these patients, and not to a lack of osseointegration.

November, 2007|Archive|

Oral cancer awareness of undergraduate medical and dental students

  • 11/26/2007
  • web-based article
  • Lachlan M Carter and Graham R Ogden
  • BMC Med Educ, November 15, 2007; 7(1): 44

Background:
The incidence of oral cancer is increasing in the United Kingdom. Early detection of oral cancers makes them more amenable to treatment and allows the greatest chance of cure. Delay in presentation and/or referral has a significant effect on the associated morbidity and mortality. Lack of general medical practitioner and general dental practitioner oral cancer knowledge has been shown to contribute to delays in referral and treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the oral cancer awareness of future general medical and general dental practitioners by assessing undergraduate medical and dental students’ knowledge of prevention and early detection of oral cancer.

Method:
Questionnaires were delivered to undergraduate medical and dental students at the University of Dundee, assessing oral examination habits, delivery of advice on oral cancer risk factors, knowledge of oral cancer risk factors and clinical appearance, preferred point of referral and requests for further information.

Reswults:
Undergraduate medical students were less likely to examine patients’ oral mucosa routinely and less likely to advise patients about risk factors for oral cancer. Medical students identified fewer oral cancer risk factors. In particular alcohol use was identified poorly. Medical students also identified fewer oral changes associated with oral cancer. Erythroplakia and erythroleukoplakia were identified poorly. Medical students felt less well informed regarding oral cancer. 86% and 92% of undergraduate medical and dental students respectively requested further information about oral cancer.

Conclusion:
This study highlights the need for improved education of undergraduate medical and dental students regarding oral cancer.

November, 2007|Archive|