Monthly Archives: July 2010

Featured clinical trial: electroacupuncture for radiation-induced chronic dry mouth

Source: www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin
Author: staff

Name of the Trial
Randomized Pilot Study of Electroacupuncture for Chronic Radiation-induced Xerostomia in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer (MAYO-MCS285). See the protocol summary 1.

Why This Trial Is Important
Head and neck cancers are often treated with external-beam radiation therapy 2. Although this treatment can be effective in controlling head and neck tumors, it may cause side effects 3 that can compromise a patient’s quality of life. Chronic dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is common among patients treated with radiation to the head and neck. This condition results from damage to the glands that produce saliva. Chronic dry mouth can have a major impact 4 on quality of life by causing pain and discomfort, affecting the ability to sleep, altering taste, and/or increasing the likelihood of dental problems.

Some drugs are available for xerostomia induced by radiation therapy, but many patients experience only a partial improvement or no benefit at all. The drug amifostine 5 can help protect the salivary glands of some head and neck cancer patients from radiation damage, but this drug cannot be used in all patients.

Some studies have suggested that acupuncture 6 can help relieve the sensation of mouth dryness in cancer patients who have undergone head and neck radiation therapy. Based on these studies and other evidence, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, are investigating the ability of a procedure called electroacupuncture to help improve the production of saliva and the quality of life of patients with chronic dry mouth. Electroacupuncture involves stimulating traditional acupuncture points 7 on the skin using small electrodes instead of needles inserted into the skin.

In this clinical trial, head and neck cancer patients with chronic dry mouth who completed radiation therapy at least 6 months before joining the trial and who received no benefit from treatment with the drug pilocarpine 8 (Salagen) will be randomly assigned to undergo electroacupuncture using a machine called a LISS stimulator, or a sham procedure using a similar-looking machine that does not produce electrical stimulation. Treatment will last for 4 weeks (20-minute sessions 5 days a week for the first 2 weeks, and then 3 days a week for the last 2 weeks) and will be administered at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Saliva flow, the patients’ subjective sensation of mouth dryness, and quality of life will be assessed during the first 3 weeks of treatment and then again 1, 3, and 6 months following treatment.

“Depending on the radiation techniques used and the location of the tumor, up to 90 percent of head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation therapy will experience chronic dry mouth,” said Dr. Halyard. “Electroacupuncture is a non-needle approach that uses electrical stimulation of the acupuncture points thought to control salivation. The hypothesis is that this stimulation will alter the energy flow of the acupuncture points and result in an increase in saliva production.

“To date, we have enrolled 24 of 30 patients for the study, so we have 6 slots left,” Dr. Halyard continued. “I would be happy to discuss the study with any patients who think they might be interested and who can commit a month to treatment in Scottsdale, as well as return for the three post-treatment assessments.” (See contact information link.)

Notes:
1. Dr. Michele Haylard, Principal Investigator, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale
2. For more information:
See the lists of entry criteria  9 and trial contact information 10 or call the NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). The toll-free call is confidential.

Table of Links:
1 http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/NCT00623129
2 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=46751
3 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=46580
4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17618467
5 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=45250
6 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=46724
7 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=449727
8 http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=45573
9 http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/NCT00623129#EntryCriteria_CDR0000583031
10 http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/NCT00623129#ContactInfo_CDR0000583031

Dental researchers discover Human Beta Defensin-3 ignites in oral cancer growth

Source: www.sciencedaily.com
Author: staff with material from Case Western Reserve University

Detecting oral cancer in its earliest stages can save the lives of the nearly 40,500 people diagnosed annually. But early detection has been difficult.

Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers discovered a biomarker, called human beta defensin-3 (hBD-3), which may serve as an early warning. The defensin is present in all oral cancers and associated with the early stages of oral cancer.

“Using the biomarker to detect oral cancer holds potential for saving lives when the cancer is most curable. Annually some 10,000 people die from this cancer,” said Ge Jin, assistant professor of biological sciences at the dental school.

He led the study, which appears in the online journal PLoS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science.

Oral cancer first appears as white or red lesions in the mouth, the same as noncancerous lesions. Often, the lesions are not biopsied, and cancer is not discovered until it becomes apparent in its later stages, when it has metastasized to other organs. Such a late-stage diagnosis is generally fatal and can result in costly surgeries and treatments or disfigurement that may include removing parts of the tongue, jaw and cheek. All this can be avoided with early removal of the lesion.

The hBD-3 biomarker is one of many innate immune peptides found in the epithelial lining of the mouth. In a normal, healthy oral cavity, hBD-1, -2 and -3 ward off the hundreds of bacteria that constantly challenge the human immune system in the mouth.

While hBD-1 and -2 are on the frontline defense, hBD-3 is only found in the basal layer where oral cancers grow. The researchers report that the hBD-2 disappears and only hBD3 is present when a cancerous tumor progresses.

Jin added that the lone presence of hBD-3 made the research team question its role on tumor growth and found it attracts other molecules that actually help the cancerous tumor grow and eventually spread to other parts of the body.

It appears hBD-3 plays a role in the development of the chemokine receptor called CCR2 that recruits tumor-associated macrophage cells to infiltrate the tumor site and stimulate tumor growth. The tumor-associated macrophages and other molecules release growth factors that encourage the progression of the tumor.

Eventually tumor cells break away, travel and spread the cancer to other places in the body.

“This is the first time that we have evidence that CCR2, too, has a role in oral cancer growth,” said Jin.

The researcher plans to continue studying the role of hBDs in oral health and to develop diagnostic tools that use the biomarker to detect early cancer.

Notes:
1.Ge Jin, Hameem I. Kawsar, Stanley A. Hirsch, Chun Zeng, Xun Jia, Zhimin Feng, Santosh K. Ghosh, Qing Yin Zheng, Aimin Zhou, Thomas M. McIntyre, Aaron Weinberg, Jörg Hermann Fritz. “An Antimicrobial Peptide Regulates Tumor-Associated Macrophage Trafficking via the Chemokine Receptor CCR2, a Model for Tumorigenesis”. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (6): e10993 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010993
2. Other project researchers are: Hameem I. Kawsar, Stanley A. Hirsch, Xun Jia, Santosh K. Ghosh, Zhimin Feng, Aaron Weinberg from Case Western Reserve University; Qing Yin Zheng from University Hospitals Case Medical Center; Chun Zeng and Aimin Zhou from Cleveland State University; and Thomas M. McIntyre, Learner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

Herpes virus treats head and neck cancer patients

Source: www.healthcanal.com
Author: staff

A genetically engineered cold sore virus has been used to treat head and neck cancer patients in a Phase I/II clinical trial run by The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

The herpes simplex virus, known as OncoVEX and owned by BioVex Inc, had been modified so it multiplies inside cancer cells but not healthy cells. It bursts and kills tumour cells and, by expressing a human protein, it also helps stimulate patients’ immune systems.

The virus was injected into 17 patients’ cancer-affected lymph nodes in up to four doses, and the patients were also given radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Head and neck tumour shrinkage could be seen on scans for 14 patients (82.3%), while 93 per cent of patients had no trace of residual cancer in their lymph nodes during subsequent surgery to remove them. After an average follow-up time of 29 months (19 to 40 months), 82.4 per cent of patients had not succumbed to the disease. Only two of 13 patients given the virus treatment at a high dose relapsed.

“Around 35 to 55 per cent of patients given the standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment typically relapse within two years, so these results compare very favourably,” Principal Investigator Dr Kevin Harrington from the ICR and The Royal Marsden says. “This was a small study so the results should be interpreted with caution; however the very high rates of tumour response have led to the decision to take this drug into a large scale Phase III trial. This will be the first ever phase III trial combining virus therapy with curative chemoradiation.”

Side-effects were generally mild to moderate, and most – except fever and fatigue – were thought to be due to the chemotherapy or radiotherapy. OncoVEX has previously shown promising results when administered on its own in early stage trials of patients with other cancer types, including a Phase II trial of metastaic melanoma patients.

“This trial showed for the first time that these oncolytic viruses can be safely used in combination with other cancer treatments given with the intention of curing patients,” Dr Harrington says.

Around 650,000 people are diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck each year worldwide, and around 350,000 die from the disease annually.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) and cancer

Source: ezinearticles.com
Author: David Warmflash, MD

Human papilloma virus (HPV), is a category of viruses of which more than seventy subtypes are known. Most people have heard of HPV, because the media have spent a good deal of time discussing the issue of mandatory vaccination against the virus. The discussion in the news is well-deserved. Each year, approximately 6.2 million people are infected with (HPV). Usually, the virus is cleared by the immune system, before any disease can develop.

However, because of the high rate of infection, HPV-associated disease is all-too common around the world. Each year 11,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States, leading to approximately 4,000 deaths. The rate would be much higher, were it not for the advent of the the Papanicolaou test (Pap smear), used to screen for precancerous conditions since the 1930s. Since Pap smears and HPV vaccinations are hot topics, even if you have no background in medicine, it is likely that you are aware of HPV as an agent that causes cervical cancer. What you may not know, however, is that HPV also is involved in cancers of the throat and the skin.

Actually, not all of the subtypes of HPV are known to be involved in the pathological process leading to cancer and precancerous conditions of the cervix. Of the HPV subtypes linked to cervical cancer, four types are most important. These are HPV-6b, HPV-11, HPV-16, and HPV-18, the latter two being the most dangerous for women, because they are found in a high percentage (60-80%) of the high-grade lesions that lead cancer if not removed, and 90% of the cancers that invade from the cervix to other parts of the body. Although less important in the development of cervical cancer, subtypes 6b and 11 cause genital warts.

Thus, one of the two vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent the spread of HPV in the United States, Gardasil, works against HPV types 6b and 11 as well as types 16 and 18. Since genital warts affects males as well as females, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended this vaccine for both sexes. The other licensed vaccine, Cervarix, is recommended for females. These recommendations, however, may change eventually, since studies in recent years have revealed that HPV causes disease not only in the genitals but elsewhere in the body.

In Texas, Executive Order 4 mandated HPV vaccination for 6th grade girls. While this was overturned by the Texas legislature, Virginia and the District of Columbia now require HPV vaccination with Gardasil or Cervarix for girls from age 11. Parents are allowed to opt out, however, and in the case of Virginia without submission of signed waivers. Thus, in Virginia, the state public health department has no way to know for certain how many girls actually receive the vaccine. Currently, legislation seeking mandatory vaccination for girls, but not boys, is pending in several other states.

Opponents of mandatory HPV vaccination for girls note the success of secondary prevention of cervical cancer, namely early detection by PAP smear. When detected early, however, the pre-cancerous condition must be treated, often by procedures such as loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP), cryotherapy, laser therapy, or conization. This has implications in patient well-being, making primary prevention (preventing the disease process from beginning in the first place) more attractive.

Those favoring mandatory vaccination for girls but opposing it for boys cite low benefit/cost ratios, but this assumes most girls actually get the vaccine and ignores data which suggest that males as well as females can develop HPV-associated throat cancer as a result of oral sex. Also cited by opponents of mandatory HPV vaccination are concerns that private, for-profit manufacturers influence lawmakers by inflating the need for the vaccine.

For several years, it has been known that HPV causes warts in the upper respiratory tract, a condition known as respiratory papillomatosis. Then a few years ago, a very strong association was found between HPV-16 and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) – throat cancer. Naturally, it was thought that HPV could be spread by way or oral sex, and this turned out to be true. A study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found the incidence of OPSCC to be high in people with more than twenty-five life time sex partners, but with only six or more life time oral sex partners.

While it is true that smokers have a higher incidence of both cervical cancer and throat cancer, in the association between OPSCC and HPV-16 was found to be particularly high for non-smokers. This is to say that assuming you’re not foolish enough to smoke, the only way you’ll get throat cancer is by way of exposure to HPV, and specifically type-16 one of the types that causes cervical cancer. Based on this, it seems likely that the CDC eventually will recommend the Cervarix vaccine for males as well for females. But this is not the end of the HPV story. Recently, it was discovered that HPV also is associated with one type of skin cancer.

Earlier this month, a study was published in the British Medical Journal showing that HPV plays a causative role in the generation of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Though not nearly as dangerous as malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, behind basal cell carcinoma. If the term “squamous cell” sounds familiar, it may be because I mentioned it above, discussing OPSCC, a squamous cell carcinoma of the throat.

Squamous cells are a subtype of a cell type known as epithelial cells. Squamous epithelial cells form linings, such as the outer layer of the skin, the lining of inner body surfaces, like the throat, and -you guessed it-the lining of the cervix; cervical cancer also is a carcinoma of squamous epithelial cells. And so, it should be no surprise that the same type of virus -HPV- causes cancers in three different body parts.

Cancer survivor Byers driving to help others

Source: Standart.net
Author: Staff

Among the dozens of cars at this weekend’s ARCA race at Pocono Raceway, one will stand out. Not for the color scheme or the lines. For the decals.

When the No. 48 of Ricky Byers Racing rolls out onto the track, it won’t be sporting the usual array of auto parts or alcoholic beverage stickers. Byers’ red-and-black Ford Fusion will decorated for those who have made his dream a reality, the 90 or so people who have given the two-time throat cancer survivor a chance to fight back at the disease that nearly cost him his life.

“It’s the greatest feeling of my life,” Byers said. “Those are the people who support what I’m doing, believe in what I’m doing and they’ve given me a chance to go out there and race for cancer.”

Byers has been around motorsports long as he can remember. His dad was a lifelong racer and little Ricky spent his early days racing motocross and go-carts before moving on to full-sized cars. The Birmingham, Ala., native went on to race for 20 years, winning five different track championships in Pony, Super Pony, Dwarf and Late Model cars.

But when Byers was 33, his career took a back seat to something much bigger: a race for his life.

Byers had lost his voice and wasn’t able to get it back for weeks, but six different doctors told him it just was a sinus infection, that he had nothing to worry about. Then came the real diagnosis: stage one squamous cell carcinoma.

The good news was Byers’ throat cancer was in the early stages and treatable. And, after 35 radiation treatments over seven weeks, Byers was told he was cancer-free.

Not long afterward, however, Byers started feeling weak. Doctors told him the cancer was gone and he was making himself sick by worrying. But Byers kept getting worse, eventually so bad he could barely eat or get out of bed.

Eventually, doctors discovered the problem. The cancer was back, this time in stage four.

“I was physically going downhill when they found it again,” Byers said. “In a couple of months, I was going to be dead.”

Faced with the same disease that had recently killed 49-year-old NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton Sr., Byers was terrified but not ready to give in.

At first, the doctors said he’d need a laryngectomy, meaning he’d spend the rest of his life with a tube in his throat, speaking through a handheld device. Unwilling to accept the loss of his voice, Byers did some research and found a specialist in Philadelphia who said he could remove the cancer with a less drastic procedure.

Byers lost his left vocal chord, part of the right and had his voice box reconstructed. He was cut from ear to ear, had a tracheostomy tube in his throat for two months, a feeding tube stuck in his side for three. He had to learn how eat, swallow, talk all over again.

A harrowing ordeal, but Byers was alive — and still had a voice.

“I don’t talk the best, but I do talk,” he said.

Now that voice, gravelly and barely above a whisper, has been spreading the message for cancer patients across the country.

Byers returned to work about six months after surgery and later rode in the Lance Armstrong Tour of Hope in Washington, D.C. Not long after that, Byers’ story got attention and people from all over the country started contacting him, looking for help in finding cancer treatments and better doctors, with finances and travel.

Pretty soon, Byers was spending nearly every non-working, non-sleeping hour helping people, often at his own expense.

“I paid it out of my pocket and I couldn’t afford to do that anymore,” said Byers, who’s in the swimming pool business.

That’s when he decided to go back to racing. Not for himself. For all the people he’s trying to help.

Byers created his own racing team last year with a purpose of donating all of its winnings to cancer research. So, despite the limitations of his voice, Byers hit the pavement, the phone and the Web, spreading the word of his cause, convincing sponsors to join in.

Just as when he was fighting for his life, Byers never gave up.

“One of the things that impressed me the most when I met Ricky for the first time was that I knew he was genuine in what he was going to do,” said Charles Robinson, the host of Burning Rubber Radio in southeastern Kentucky who has helped Byers promote his program. “He was going to do it regardless. He was going to use any means to get the word out.”

Still, it hasn’t been easy.

The 40-year-old Byers had a deal lined up to race the entire season, but the sponsor died of a stroke just days before the opener at Daytona in February and the money fell through. He’s spent the five months since working on deals — from donated products to sponsorship money — trying to convince people his cause is worthwhile.

Byers finally pulled enough together, getting just enough money to run at Pocono. So on Saturday, the driver who’s helped so many cancer patients will hit the pavement for the first time in seven years, the support of those 90 decals pushing him along to help so many more.

“We’re about $6,000 short, but we’re going,” he said. “If we can get the word out, get a sponsor to come on full-time, we could raise millions of dollars for cancer research.”

He’s already off to a good start.

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Evaluation of a multifaceted social marketing campaign to increase awareness of and screening for oral cancer in African Americans.

Source: Sanford University
Authors: JM Jedele and AI Ismail

Jedele JM, Ismail AI. Evaluation of a multifaceted social marketing campaign to increase awareness of and screening for oral cancer in African Americans. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2010; 38: 371-382. (c) 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S Abstract – Objectives: A 2-year social marketing media campaign and community education activities were organized to promote screening for oral cancer in a high-risk population in Detroit/Wayne County, Michigan. Long-term goals of the campaign were to reduce the oral cancer death rate, increase the proportion of oral cancers detected at an early stage, and increase the proportion of adults who report having been screened. The intermediate goals of the campaign were to increase awareness of oral cancer and of oral cancer screening. This article presents outcomes related to the intermediate goals of the campaign. Methods: The intermediate goals of the campaign were assessed by the number of calls to a toll-free hotline, which media venues led to calls, number of screenings conducted by the free screening clinic, number of precancers and cancers detected, and the number of sessions conducted, organizations involved, and persons participating in the community education program. The costs per screened case and cancers detected were also evaluated. The media campaign promoted screening using billboards, radio and newspaper ads, and a toll-free hotline. Culturally relevant messages were developed collaboratively with focus groups representing the target audience. Billboards were placed in highly visible locations around Detroit, Michigan. Sixty-second messages on the impact of oral cancer and that screening is ‘painless and free’ were aired on radio stations popular with the target audience. Ads displaying the hotline were placed in two local newspapers. Callers to the hotline were scheduled for a free screening with a clinic operated by the project. Referral to an oral surgeon was scheduled if a suspicious lesion was found. Free education sessions were also conducted with community-based organizations. Costs associated with the campaign and hotline were totaled, and the cost per screening and cancer detected were calculated. Results: During the campaign, 1327 radio spots aired; 42 billboards were displayed; two newspaper ads were printed; and 242 education sessions were conducted. The hotline received 1783 calls. The majority of callers reported that their call was prompted by a radio ad (57%). The clinic screened 1020 adults and referred 78 for further examination. Three cancers, two precancers, and 12 benign tumors were detected. The total cost associated with the campaign and toll-free hotline was $795,898. Conclusions: A multifaceted social marketing campaign including radio ads, billboards, and education sessions can effectively target a high-risk population and that given an outlet could result in a significant number of people getting screened at a relatively low cost.

Publication Type:

  • Journal article

PMID: 20646014

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Does framing Human Papillomavirus Vaccine as preventing cancer in men increase vaccine acceptability?

Source: Stanford University
Authors: AL McRee, PL Reiter, K Chantala, and NT Brewer

Background:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is now approved for use in males in the United States to prevent genital warts. We conducted an experiment to see whether framing HPV vaccination as also preventing cancer in men would increase men’s vaccination willingness.

Methods:
We conducted an online survey in January 2009 with a national sample of men ages 18 to 59 years who self-identified as gay/bisexual (n = 312) or heterosexual (n = 296). In the within-subjects experiment, men read four randomly ordered vignettes that described hypothetical vaccines that prevented either genital warts alone, or genital warts and either anal cancer, oral cancer, or penile cancer. We analyzed data using repeated measures ANOVA and tested whether perceived severity or perceived likelihood mediated the effect of disease outcome framing on men’s HPV vaccination willingness.

Results:
Although only 42% of men were willing to receive HPV vaccine when it was framed as preventing genital warts alone, 60% were willing to get it when it was framed as preventing cancer in addition to genital warts (P < 0.001). The effect of outcome framing was the same for heterosexual and gay/bisexual men and for the three cancer types examined. Perceived severity of disease partially mediated the association between disease outcome and HPV vaccination willingness.

Conclusions:
Men may be more accepting of HPV vaccine when it is framed as preventing cancer, regardless which of the three most common HPV-related cancers in men is described. Impact: Study findings may be useful in developing health communication messages that maximize HPV vaccine acceptability among young men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 19(8); OF1-8. (c)2010 AACR.

PMID: 20647398

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Ohio pastor to turn over dead brother’s estate

Source: Dayton Daily News
Author: Staff

MONROE, Ohio — The co-pastor of an Ohio megachurch where a 62-foot-tall Jesus statue was struck by lightning said she will turn her brother’s estate over to her nephew after years of family feuding.

Solid Rock Church co-pastor Darlene Bishop has held control of the estate of her brother, country music songwriter Darrell “Wayne” Perry, who died of throat cancer in 2005 at age 55.

Perry’s songs included Tim McGraw’s “Not a Moment Too Soon,” Toby Keith’s “A Woman’s Touch” and Lorrie Morgan’s hit, “What Part Of No.”

Perry’s four children say Bishop hastened her brother’s death in 2005 by promising to use prayer, instead of medical treatment, to cure his throat cancer.

Sixty-five-year-old Bishop says she encouraged her brother to see a doctor, but he refused.

“All of (his children’s) accusations against me were not warranted,” Bishop said.

Sixty-five-year-old Bishop and her husband, Lawrence, founded the Solid Rock Church in southwest Ohio in 1978. It grew from a dozen congregants in a tin-roofed building with folding chairs into a megachurch with 13 churches in the Philippines and an orphanage in Brazil.

The Dayton Daily News reports that Darlene Bishop Ministries made more than $1.3 million in 2007, the last year for which complete IRS records were available.

“She thrives on fame and stardom and shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue,” said Bishop’s nephew Bryan Wayne Perry. “I’m ashamed that the same blood runs through our veins.”

In one of Bishop’s books, she says God cured her of breast cancer in 1986. Twenty years later, in a court deposition, she said she was never medically diagnosed with the disease, but believes she had it.

Her brother’s children said Bishop used that story to persuade her brother not to seek medical care until it was too late.

“It hurt me tremendously,” Bishop said of the family quarrels. “I’m not going to allow anything to make me bitter. My conscience is clear.”

Bishop said she and her husband are looking ahead to replacing the bust of Jesus with a full-bodied statue made of limestone.

___

Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com

___

July 25, 2010 11:50 PM EDT

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Vaccines might help fight throat cancer, but hurdles are high

Source: www.npr.org
Author: Chao Deng

There’s been a big and controversial push to protect girls from cervical cancer by vaccinating them against the human papillomavirus. Turns out, the same vaccine might also protect boys from developing throat cancer later in life.

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press Could this vaccine protect against more than cervical cancer and genital warts?

Researchers estimate HPV causes more than 11,000 cases of throat cancers in the U.S. each year. Many are cropping up in younger people, especially in white men. Changes in sexual behavior have led to an increase in that could mean more than 20,000 cases annually by 2015, Forbes reports.

So wouldn’t you think that a growing market like that would be attractive to makers of HPV vaccines? Not so much, it turns out.

Merck’s Gardasil vaccine is approved for use in boys, but only to protect against genital warts. And a company spokeswoman told us in an email that Merck isn’t looking to pursue approval of a throat-cancer indication anytime soon because of “competing research and business priorities.” Same goes for Glaxo, according to Forbes.

A big hurdle is that doctors can’t screen for throat cancer the way they can for cervical cancer with a Pap smear. Without a simple test, it’s harder to show the HPV vaccine reduces the risk of throat cancer.

And that, in turn, makes it harder for vaccine makers to run a study that will pass muster with the Food and Drug Administration.

But the outlook isn’t completely bleak. Ohio State researcher Maura Gillison, who got funding for a pilot vaccine study from Merck back in 2008 that has since ended, says further research “could be done either with federal funding or [support from] some philanthropic organization.”

She told Shots that her team has already found reliable methods to detect HPV infections in the throat.

Marshall Posner, the incoming medical director of head and neck cancer at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, told Forbes it’s a shame Merck isn’t pursuing the research. “But in the end, this is a federal responsibility,” he said. “It’s a public health issue.”

Dispatch: get vaccinated!

Source: American Council on Science and Health
Author: Staff

According to U.S. researchers, there are an estimated 11,300 throat cancer cases attributable to human papilloma virus (HPV) annually, although the government does not formally track the incidence rate since the connection between HPV and throat cancer was only made in the past few years. The rate is expected to rise since people have more sexual partners now than in decades past.

“Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the connection between HPV and throat cancer since it is so underreported. I’m especially concerned for kids who engage in oral sexual activities under the mistaken belief that this is ‘safe sex,’ and it’s not,” warns ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.

Though also alarmed by the increasing rate of throat cancer caused by infection with HPV, ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross was more perturbed to learn that drug makers are resistant to study the use of HPV vaccines — now used to prevent cervical cancer in women and anal warts in males — for the prevention of oral cancer. “I was disconcerted to read that the two manufacturers of the HPV vaccine, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, are not interested in pursuing this topic of prevention,” laments Dr. Ross. “Since there is no easy way to detect pre-cancers in the oral cavity, a clinical trial could take 10 to 20 years to complete. However, it is obvious that eliminating the virus through the use of vaccination would stop our current epidemic.”

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|