Oral Cancer Foundation News Team

About Oral Cancer Foundation News Team

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Oral Cancer Foundation News Team has created 709 blog entries.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

Author: Linda Carroll
Date: May 15, 2017
Source: http://www.today.com/health/hpv-vaccine-who-should-get-it-t110710

There is so much confusion around the human papillomavirus, or HPV: what it is, what causes it, how you can prevent it, and most commonly, whether or not the HPV vaccine is actually safe.

Here are the basics: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. It’s transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, and you can get it by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone else who has the virus. It is very common: A recent report found 42 percent of Americans are infected with HPV.

That may sound alarming, but in most cases, HPV goes away without any signs and doesn’t lead to health issues. When HPV doesn’t go away, it can lead to genital warts and cancer. It’s important to note 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 59 are infected with the cancer-causing strains.

So what can you do? The best way to prevent these harmful types of HPV is to get the HPV vaccine, which was first recommended in 2006, but people are still wary of it.

“This is the only vaccine we have that prevents cancer,” said Dr. Donnica Moore, president of the Sapphire Women’s Health Group. The HPV vaccine protects against strains of the virus that have been shown to cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancer, as well as certain cancers of the mouth and throat.

The most common cancer in women related to HPV is cervical cancer. In men, the head and neck are most commonly involved. A high-profile reminder of this hazard was Michael Douglas’s HPV-related throat cancer, which was found and treated in 2010.

The HPV vaccine is safe and effective: According to the CDC, the vaccine provides close to 100 percent protection against cervical pre-cancers and genital warts.

Currently, the vaccine is recommended for girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 26, said Dr. Melissa Simon, vice chair of clinical research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. It’s also recommended for boys and men between 9 and 21, she added.

For children between 9 and 14, the recommendation is two doses, six months apart. If started later than 14, the recommendation is three doses.

Many parents are worried that vaccinating kids against a sexually transmitted disease will make them promiscuous, but experts say that’s not true.

“It doesn’t make them want more sex,” Simon said. If that concern is what’s holding you back, just tell your children they’re getting the vaccine to prevent cancer, Moore said.

While kids are the most likely to develop new infections with HPV, increasing numbers of women in their 50s are testing positive for it, Moore said. That’s most likely tied to new sexual activity after divorce, she explained.

For women older than 26 and men older than 21, the best way to prevent infection is with barrier protection, such as condoms.

If you’re older than 26 and want to be vaccinated, you can talk to your doctor about it. “Doctors can prescribe any FDA-approved drug or vaccine for anything they determine is appropriate, however you may have to pay for it,” Moore said. That’s because the labeling says it’s for women under age 27 and men under age 22, and many insurance companies won’t pay for a treatment that is not listed.

You’ll have a better case with the insurance company if you haven’t had sex yet, Moore said. The current age restrictions are in place partly because younger people are less likely to have been exposed to the virus. There’s no point in getting vaccinated if you’ve already been exposed, but your doctor can tell you if it’s beneficial for you get the vaccine.

May, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

‘Happy Days’ star Erin Moran’s Husband Reveals Tragic Details about Cancer

Author: Marah Alindogan
Source: www.aol.com
Date: Apr 25th 2017

Erin Moran’s husband, Steve Fleischmann, revealed heartbreaking details about the months leading up to her death in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

New evidence from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office on Monday suggested that the actress likely died due to complications from stage 4 cancer. The open letter, which was posted on Scott Baio’s official Facebook page, confirmed the report.

“Erin and I met 4/22/1992 and parted ways 4/22/2017,” her husband began the letter.

He recalled that Erin “woke up and had about a dime size blood stain on her pillowcase” right after they got back from a trip to celebrate their wedding anniversary in November of last year. After a couple of days, they kept on finding more blood.

“I get a flashlight and say let me look. It was not her tongue it was her tonsil on the left side. I thought it was tonsillitis,” wrote Fleischmann.

After getting a biopsy, doctors confirmed she had squamous cell carcinoma — a common form of cancer. Shortly after, she started radiation and chemo — five days a week on radiation and chemo only on Thursdays.

However, Erin’s condition slowly deteriorated: “It got so bad so fast. By the middle of February, Erin could no longer speak or eat or drink.”

Despite her poor health, the actress remained in good spirits.

“She was still happy, she was active, she texted people on her phone all day,” Steve added.

The day before her death, April 21, she had trouble breathing. And the next day, Steve claimed she wasn’t 100 percent.

“I laid down next to her held her right hand in my left. I feel asleep woke up about a hour later still holding her hand and she was gone, she was just gone …”

Steve revealed Norton Cancer Institute, where his wife received treatments, “never said how bad it was.”

“The coroner told me it was really really bad. It had spread to her spleen, she had alot of fluid in her lungs and part of her brain was infected,” he shared. “The coroner said even if she was in the hospital being pumped full of antibiotics she still would not of made it. He said it was the best that she was with me and went in her sleep.”

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Overwhelming support from GPs & dentists for boys to receive the HPV vaccination

Date: 4/24/2017
Source: http://www.hpvaction.org

  • 97% of dentists and 94% of GPs would have their own sons vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), in a new survey published ahead of World Immunisation Week 24th-28th April.
  • 97% of dentists and 94% of GPs believe that the national HPV vaccination programme should cover both boys and girls.

95% of GPs and dentists together said if they had a son they would want him to receive the HPV vaccination. The findings come as the Government’s vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) moves towards a decision on whether boys should be given the HPV vaccination.


Dr Andrew Green, a member of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee (GPC), said: “If we want to see an end to some of the most aggressive and hard to treat cancers such as throat, head, neck and anal cancer, boys as well as girls must be given the HPV vaccination. It is ridiculous that people are still dying from these cancers when their life could have easily been saved by a simple injection.”


Mick Armstrong, Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said: “HPV is the leading cause of oro-pharyngeal cancers and men are just as likely to develop it as women so where is the logic – or fairness – in targeting protection to one section of the population? It is morally indefensible to allow people to contract cancer when prevention – the new NHS mantra – could be so cheap and easy. Cancers affecting the mouth and throat have a huge impact on the quality of people’s lives, so it’s frustrating for dentists, who are often the first to detect them, knowing how easily they could have been prevented.”


Parliamentarians from all parties have signed an open letter to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, urging him to ensure that the UK doesn’t miss this opportunity to eradicate some of the fastest rising cancers in the developed world.
Up to 80% of sexually active people will be infected by HPV at some point in their lives. 5% of all cancers are caused by HPV and some of these, notably oral cancers, are now rising sharply in incidence. HPV-related cancers such as anal cancer are also among the hardest to diagnose and treat.


Many doctors, dentists, scientists and professional and patient organisations who support the vaccination of both sexes are concerned that the JCVI will reject universal coverage on the grounds of cost despite the vaccination’s ability to protect against 5% of all cancers and the huge cost of treating HPV-related cancers and other diseases caused by HPV (genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis).

It is estimated that vaccinating boys would cost £20-22m a year at most – a figure that is dwarfed by the cost of treating HPV-related cancers and warts. An estimated £57.1 million is spent treating head and neck cancer (in England), almost £7 million on treating men with anal cancer and an estimated £58.44 million a year treating anogenital warts.

Newly-published research by Favato G, Easton T, Vecchiato R, Noikokyris E. “Ecological validity of cost-effectiveness models of universal HPV vaccination: a systematic literature review” casts doubt on hitherto published cost-effectiveness modelling and highlights the uncertainties in the process.

The authors comment: “Our findings indicate that the selective immunisation of prepubertal girls is likely to fail to achieve the expected level of herd immunity at population level. A relatively small (15–20%) overestimation of QALY-gained with selective immunisation programmes could induce a significant error in the estimate of the cost-effectiveness of universal immunisation, making the option of vaccinating boys [wrongly appear to be] cost-ineffective.”


As well as cost, the main argument deployed against vaccinating boys is that the girls’ programme indirectly protects boys. However, this has been widely dismissed because it fails to take into account men who have sex with unvaccinated women (from the UK and other countries) or men who have sex with men.


One of the key voices in the campaign, Tristan Almada, HPV & Anal Cancer Foundation, said: “The UK government cannot ignore the overwhelming support from GPs, dentists and MPs who want boys to have the HPV vaccination. With every year that passes, almost 400,000 more boys go unvaccinated and are therefore at
risk of developing a HPV-related cancer later in life. The government must roll out gender-neutral vaccination nationally as soon as possible.”


Australia, USA, Brazil, Bermuda, New Zealand, Austria, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and Canada all recommend that boys are vaccinated as well as girls.


Peter Baker, HPV Action Campaign Director, said: “HPV affects men and women equally and both sexes therefore deserve equal protection though a national vaccination programme. It is now time for the Government’s vaccination advisory committee to look up from its financial spreadsheets and act to end the suffering of those men and women affected by easily-preventable diseases caused by HPV.”

The survey was carried out by HPV Action with the support of the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation and its other members. HPV Action is asking people, especially the parents of boys, to sign an online petition demanding gender-neutral vaccination: and will be calling on all political parties to commit themselves to gender-neutral HPV vaccination during the forthcoming General Election campaign.

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Close to Half of American Adults Infected With HPV, Survey Finds

Source: www.nytimes.com
Author: Nicholas Bakalar
Date: 04/06/2017

More than 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 are infected with genital human papillomavirus, according to the first survey to look at the prevalence of the virus in the adult population.

The report, published on Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, also found that certain high-risk strains of the virus infected 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women. These strains account for approximately 31,000 cases of cancer each year, other studies have shown.

Two vaccines are effective in preventing sexually transmitted HPV infection, and researchers said the new data lend urgency to the drive to have adolescents vaccinated.

“If we can get 11- and 12-year-olds to get the vaccine, we’ll make some progress,” said Geraldine McQuillan, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and lead author of the new report.

“You need to give it before kids become sexually active, before they get infected,” Dr. McQuillan said. “By the time they’re in their mid-20s, people are infected and it’s too late. This is a vaccine against cancer — that’s the message.”

She and her colleagues also found that 7.3 percent of Americans ages 18 to 69 were infected orally with vHPV, and 4 percent were infected with the high-risk strains that can cause cancers of the mouth and pharynx.

HPV is a ubiquitous virus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. About 40 strains of the virus are sexually transmitted, and virtually all sexually active individuals are exposed to it by their early 20s.

The virus usually is spread through direct contact with infected genital skin or mucuous membranes during intercourse or oral sex. Over 90 percent of HPV infections are cleared by the body within two years. The figures released today were a snapshot of the prevalence of active oral HPV infection from 2011 through 2014, and active genital infection in 2013 and 2014.

Sometimes, the virus persists in the body. Chronic infections with certain strains can lead to genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vagina, penis, anus and throat. Two viral strains, HPV-16 and -18, cause almost all cervical cancers.

“One of the most striking things that we really want people to know is that high-risk HPV is common — common in the general population,” Dr. McQuillan said.

Get the best of Well, with the latest on health, fitness and nutrition, plus exclusive commentary by Tara Parker-Pope, delivered to your inbox every week.

While the C.D.C. recommends routine screening for cervical cancer for all women ages 21 to 65, adults are not routinely screened for HPV infection itself. Indeed, there is no HPV test for men at all. (A test for women is sometimes used in conjunction with a Pap screen for cervical cancer.)

There were significant differences in rates of high-risk genital HPV infection by race and ethnicity, Dr. McQuillan and her colleagues found.

The highest rate, 33.7 percent, was found among non-Hispanic blacks; the lowest, 11.9 percent, among Asians. The prevalence of genital HPV infection was 21.6 percent among whites and 21.7 percent among Hispanics.

Men generally have somewhat higher rates than women, but among Asian and Hispanic men, the infections are not significantly more common. The reasons for these variations are not known.

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Unmasked, Cancer Survivors Face The Symbol Of Their Torture

Source: www.npr.org
Date: 09/28/2014
Author: Emily Siner


Every 15 minutes, for 10 hours a day, another patient walks into the radiation room at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville. Each picks up a plastic mesh mask, walks to a machine, and lies down on the table underneath.

Nurses fit the mask over the patient’s face and shoulders. And then they snap it down.

“It was awful,” says Barbara Blades, who was diagnosed with cancer in her lymph nodes and tongue nine years ago. “It was awful to have your head bolted to a table. Not being able to move. Not being able to move your head.”

“I can remember lying there, thinking that I’m glad I’m not claustrophobic,” says Oscar Simmons, who had cancer in his tonsils.

“I sort of fibbed to myself,” says Bob Mead, who was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in 2011. “I thought, if I had to, I could sit up and pull the mask off.”

Mead later realized he couldn’t have pulled up his mask. It’s designed to restrain his head so that the radiation targets the exact same spots — down to the millimeter — across several weeks.

The mask is made out of a kind of white plastic mesh that forms to a patient’s face. It’s see-through, but it looks almost human, like a ghostly person frozen in place.

Other survivors, like Steve Travis, who had tumors on his throat and neck and went through several weeks of radiation, say it felt comforting under the mask.

But when he finished treatment, Travis says, just thinking about the mask made him angry.

“Because it sort of represented everything that had happened for the last four months,” he says. “So I destroyed it.”

Cancer patient Troy Creasey lies under a radiation machine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Radiation therapists snap the mask to the table to keep his head in place.

Emily Siner /NPR

Travis took it out to a family farm in West Tennessee and set it up next to a tree. He shot at it with two magazines from a .45 automatic — and then, for good measure, he burned it.

“I kept it for the longest time, and it just sat there,” says Barbara Blades, the woman with tongue cancer. “I couldn’t bring it myself to throw it away, because I had radiation five days a week for seven weeks. It was a part of me for that amount of time.”

Blades ended up keeping the radiation mask in her garage. She finally threw it out after it was damaged during a flood four years ago.

But Bob Mead, who had salivary gland cancer, held onto his mask with a sense of pride.

“It’s shaped like me. It fits me,” Mead says. “It’s like a favorite pair of jeans. People might not think of a mask that fondly, but there’s a familiarity to it. But the mask is actually part of me, and it’s that badge of honor that I have survived what is believed to have killed my cancer.”

Oscar Simmons, who had tonsil cancer, gave it to an artist who turned the mask into a sculpture of a mountain with a landscape around it as part of a project called Courage Unmasked, which has turned dozens of masks from survivors into art.

“Its goal is to restrain, and they’re going to expand,” Simmons says. “And so, it’s a thing of contrasts, I guess.”

As for Mead’s mask — he still hasn’t decided what to do with it.

“Mine’s actually sitting on my sun porch, on my shelf,” he says.

Every once in a while, he says he’ll pick it up and put it on his face. It still fits. And that’s OK, he says, because now, he’s free to take it off.

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

HPV Vaccine Could Protect More People With Fewer Doses, Doctors Insist

Source: www.npr.org
Date: March 29, 2017
Author: Michelle Andrews

You’d think that a vaccine that protects people against more than a half dozen types of cancer would have patients lining up to get it. But the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent roughly 90 percent of all cervical cancers as well as other cancers and sexually transmitted infections caused by the virus, has faced an uphill climb since its introduction more than a decade ago.

Now, with a dosing schedule that requires fewer shots of a more effective vaccine, a leading oncology group has joined other clinicians and public health advocates who are pushing hard to prevent these virus-related cancers.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended reducing the number of HPV vaccine shots from three to two for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14.

This month, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists also urged physicians in the U.S. and abroad to use the vaccine to help provide protection against cervical cancer.

The CDC recommendation was based, in part, on clinical trial data that showed two doses were just as effective as a three-dose regimen for this age group. (Young people older than 14 still require three shots.)

The clinical trial was conducted using Gardasil 9, a version of the vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2014. It protects against nine types of HPV, seven that are responsible for 90 percent of cervical cancers and two that account for 90 percent of genital warts.

In addition, the improved version of Gardasil increases protection against HPV-related cancers in the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum and oropharynx, which is the tongue and tonsil area at the back of the throat.

An earlier version of the vaccine protected against four types of HPV.

From the start, clinicians have run into some parental and political roadblocks because the vaccine, which is recommended for preteens, protects against genital human papillomavirus, a virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. Many physicians are reluctant about discussing the need for the vaccine, and for many parents, the vaccine’s cancer-prevention benefits have been overshadowed by concerns about discussing sexual matters with young kids.

Yet, for maximum protection, the immunizations should be given before girls and boys become sexually active.

The focus should not have been on sexually transmitted infections, some say. “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” said Dr. H. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases.

“This vaccine should have been introduced as a vaccine that will prevent cancer, not sexually transmitted infections,” Meissner says.

The HPV virus is incredibly common. At any given time, nearly 80 million Americans are infected, and most people can expect to contract HPV at some point in their lives. Most never know they’ve been infected and have no symptoms. Some people develop genital warts, but the infection generally goes away on its own.

However, others may develop problems years later. There are approximately 39,000 HPV-related cancers every year in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of them in women. In addition to cervical cancer, more than 90 percent of anal cancers and 70 percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers are thought to be caused by the HPV virus. Recent studies show that about 70 percent of cancers in the back of the throat, tongue and tonsils may also be linked to HPV.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimated that earlier versions of the HPV vaccine could reduce the number of HPV-related cancers by nearly 25,000 annually.

The new vaccine is estimated to prevent 5,000 cancer deaths annually, according to Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

But compliance is an ongoing problem. “They’re not getting the one vaccine that protects against diseases from which they’re most likely to suffer and die,” Offit said, noting that deaths from pertussis and meningococcal disease, for which adolescents are also vaccinated at that age, are minuscule compared with HPV-related cancers.

In 2015, 87 percent of 13-year-olds were up-to-date with the Tdap vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and 80 percent had received the meningococcal vaccine, according to the CDC. But just 30 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys at that age had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine. In contrast to other vaccines, however, the HPV vaccine is only required in a few states for secondary school students.

Public health advocates say they think the shift to a two-dose regimen could make a big difference for parents, as well as kids.

Because the second HPV shot is supposed to be given anywhere from six months to a year after the first one, “parents can fit it into a routine regimen when people go in for their 12-year-old’s regularly scheduled visit,” said Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., chairman of pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport, La. He’s also president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.


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

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Immunotherapy Making Its Mark on Head and Neck Cancer

Author: Lisa Miller
Published online: 03/22/2017
Source: http://www.targetedonc.com/

Following the approval of 2 immunotherapy agents, pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) over the last 6 months, immunotherapy is making its mark on the treatment paradigm for HNC.

Due to the responses seen with these 2 agents, immunotherapies are being investigated further in the treatment of HNC.

“Immunotherapy is a very potent treatment for some patients. In a way it shows you that we’re probably just scratching the surface with [immunotherapy treatment for HNC],” Tanguy Seiwert, MD, said during a presentation at the 1st Annual International Congress on Immunotherapies in CancerTM, hosted by the Physicians’ Education Resource (PER).

Findings from the KEYNOTE-012 trial led to the approval of pembrolizumab in patients with recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The overall response rate was 18% with only 1 patient experiencing a complete response.1 However, about 50% of patients, both HPV-positive and HPV-negative, experienced a decrease in their target lesions.

“I would like to point out that response is a terrible, terrible outcome measure for immunotherapy. In the end, what we really care about with immunotherapy is overall survival [OS],” commented Seiwert, associate program director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program, and assistant professor of medicine, The University of Chicago Medicine. “Many patients have prolonged stable disease and that likely contributes signicantly to the strong OS signal that we oftentimes see.”

The phase III CheckMate 141 trial, which Seiwert said was “arguably the most important study in the field,” showed a difference in OS that is more revealing of outcome measures in immunotherapy. CheckMate 141 investigated nivolumab monotherapy in the second-line setting versus investigator’s choice of chemotherapy in patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC and demonstrated a median OS of 7.5 (95% CI, 5.5-9.1) versus 5.1 months (95% CI, 4.0-6.0) with standard therapy (P = .0101).2 The 1-year OS rate was 36% with nivolumab versus 16.6% with standard therapy. Alternatively, the response rate was 13.3% with nivolumab compared with 5.8% in the standard therapy arm.

“The response rate wasn’t that impressive, but the overall survival data are stunning. And that’s again an example of how wonderfully these drugs work,” Seiwert said.

Following the responses seen in these 2 studies of PD-1 inhibitors, immunotherapy agents are being considered in the frontline, including in combination regimens, which Seiwert believes are promising. One such combination is durvalumab (MEDI4736), a PD-L1 inhibitor, and tremelimumab, an anti–CTLA-4 agent, which was compared against durvalumab or the EXTREME trial regimen of cetuximab (Erbitux) and platinum-based chemotherapy in the phase III KESTREL trial.

Other first-line combination studies of interest in HNC include the KEYNOTE-048 study, which is looking at pembrolizumab and chemotherapy versus pembrolizumab monotherapy or the EXTREME regimen (NCT02358031); the CheckMate 651 study of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab versus EXTREME (NCT02741570); and the CheckMate 714 study exploring ipilimumab and nivolumab versus nivolumab as a single agent (NCT02823574).

Preliminary results looking at the combination of lirilumab, an anti-KIR agent, and nivolumab in a phase I/II study were presented at the 2016 SITC Annual Meeting. The combination showed an objective response rate (ORR) of 24.1% versus an ORR of 13.3% seen with nivolumab monotherapy in the CheckMate 141 trial.2,3 The OS at 1 year was 60% with the combination compared with 36% for nivolumab monotherapy. Among patients with PD-L1 expression in the tumor cells of ≥50%, the ORR was 57.1% with lirilumab and nivolumab versus 36.8% with nivolumab alone. Seiwert hypothesized that KIR was among a number of targets, also including CTLA-4, IDO, and OX40, that are more active in hot tumors.

In discussing which patients should receive immunotherapy treatment, Seiwert looked to various biomarkers currently under investigation for their predictive or prognostic association to immu- notherapy response. The KEYNOTE-024 trial looking at pembrolizumab versus chemotherapy in patients with non–small cell lung cancer changed the eld of PD-L1 testing, according to Seiwert. There was a significant difference in progression-free survival (PFS) and OS rates noted in patients with PD-L1 expression of ≥50% on the tumor cells.4 This can be translated into HNC, and notably, the KEYNOTE-048 trial of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC will include a PD-L1–positive subgroup as part of its investigation.

“While I do have my doubts about how perfect PD-L1 testing is, I do believe it plays a role for enrichment,” Seiwert commented.

An interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) signature showed significant association with overall response (P = .005) and PFS (P <.001) in an analysis of PD-L1–positive patients from the KEYNOTE-012 trial.5 There was also a very high negative predictive value for patients with non–IFN-γ–inflamed tumors who did not receive benefit from pembrolizumab, which would prove useful in identifying which patients should not receive anti–PD-1 therapy. Of great interest are the patients with inflamed tumors who do not benefit from the treatment. Perhaps they could be converted into responders through combination therapies, Seiwert pondered.

“None of these biomarkers are perfect. I think we need a bit more time to fully understand this, but these are biomarkers that are potentially helpful and might outperform PD-L1 testing in the near future,” Seiwert said.


** OCF was one of the financial sponsors of the checkmate 141 trial that produced BMS’s Opdivo drug (nivolumab).**

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Self-persuasion iPad app spurs low-income parents to protect teens against cancer-causing HPV

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-03-self-persuasion-ipad-app-spurs-low-income.html
Date: March 7, 2017

As health officials struggle to boost the number of teens vaccinated against the deadly human papillomavirus, a new study from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, found that self-persuasion works to bring parents on board.

Currently public health efforts rely on educational messages and doctor recommendations to persuade parents to vaccinate their adolescents. Self-persuasion as a tool for HPV vaccinations has never been researched until now.

The SMU study found that low-income parents will decide to have their teens vaccinated against the sexually transmitted cancer-causing virus if the parents persuade themselves of the protective benefits.

The study’s subjects—almost all moms—were taking their teens and pre-teens to a safety-net pediatric clinic for medical care. It’s the first to look at changing parents’ behavior through self-persuasion using English- and Spanish-language materials.

“This approach is based on the premise that completing the vaccination series is less likely unless parents internalize the beliefs for themselves, as in ‘I see the value, I see the importance, and because I want to help my child,'” said psychology professor Austin S. Baldwin, a principal investigator on the research.

Depending on age, the HPV vaccine requires a series of two or three shots over eight months. External pressure might initially spark parents to action. But vaccinations decline sharply after the first dose.

The new study follows an earlier SMU study that found guilt, social pressure or acting solely upon a doctor’s recommendation was not related to parents’ motivation to vaccinate their kids.

The new finding is reported in the article “Translating self-persuasion into an adolescent HPV vaccine promotion intervention for parents attending safety-net clinics” in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.

Both studies are part of a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. Baldwin, associate professor in the SMU Department of Psychology, is co-principal investigator with Jasmin A. Tiro, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Addressing the HPV problem

A very common virus, HPV infects nearly one in four people in the United States, including teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in females; penile cancer in males; and anal cancer, back of the throat cancer and genital warts in both genders, the CDC says.

The CDC recommends a series of two shots of the vaccine for 11- to 14-year-olds to build effectiveness in advance of sexual activity. For 15- to 26-year-olds, they are advised to get three doses over the course of eight months, says the CDC.

Currently, about 60% of adolescent girls and 40% of adolescent boys get the first dose of the HPV vaccine. After that, about 20% of each group fail to follow through with the second dose, Baldwin said.

The goal set by health authorities is to vaccinate 80% of adolescents to achieve the herd immunity effect of indirect protection when a large portion of the population is protected.

NCI grant aimed at developing a software app

The purpose of the National Cancer Institute grant is to develop patient education software for the HPV vaccine that is easily used by low-income parents who may struggle to read and write, and speak only Spanish.

A body of research in the psychology field has shown that the technique of self-persuasion among well-educated people is successful using written English-language materials. Self-persuasion hasn’t previously been tested among underserved populations in safety-net clinics.

The premise is that individuals will be more likely to take action because the choice they are making is important to them and they value it.

In contrast, where motivation is extrinsic, an individual acts out of a sense of others’ expectations or outside pressure.

Research has found that people are much more likely to maintain a behavior over time—such as quitting smoking, exercising or losing weight—when it’s autonomously motivated. Under those circumstances, they value the choice and consider it important.

“A provider making a clear recommendation is clearly important,'” said Deanna C. Denman, a co-author on the study and a graduate researcher in SMU’s Psychology Department. “Autonomy over the decision can be facilitated by the doctor, who can confirm to parents that “The decision is yours, and here are the reasons I recommend it.'”

Doctor’s recommendation matters, but may not be sufficient

For the SMU study, the researchers educated parents in a waiting room by providing a custom-designed software application running on an iPad tablet.

The program guided the parents in English or Spanish to scroll through audio prompts that help them think through why HPV vaccination is important. The parents verbalized in their own words why it would be important to them to get their child vaccinated. Inability to read or write wasn’t a barrier.

Parents in the SMU study were recruited through the Parkland Memorial Hospital’s out-patient pediatric clinics throughout Dallas County. Most of the parents were Hispanic and had a high school education or less. Among 33 parents with unvaccinated adolescents, 27—81%—decided they would vaccinate their child after completing the self-persuasion tasks.

New study builds on prior study results

In the earlier SMU study, researchers surveyed 223 parents from the safety-net clinics. They completed questionnaires relevant to motivation, intentions and barriers to vaccination.

The researchers found that autonomous motivation was strongly correlated with intentions, Denman said. As autonomous motivation increased, the greater parents’ intentions to vaccinate. The lower the autonomous motivation, the lower the parents’ intentions to vaccinate, she explained.

“So they may get the first dose because the doctor says it’s important,” Baldwin said. “But the second and third doses require they come back in a couple months and again in six months. It requires the parent to feel it’s important to their child, and that’s perhaps what’s going to push or motivate them to complete the series. So that’s where, downstream, there’s an important implication.”

More information: Austin S. Baldwin et al. Translating self-persuasion into an adolescent HPV vaccine promotion intervention for parents attending safety-net clinics, Patient Education and Counseling (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.11.014

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Why Oh Why Is There Phlegm?

Source: www.npr.com
Wendy Mitman Clarke

Struggling through a nasty round of bronchitis with little better to do than binge watch Netflix and feel epically sorry for myself, I pondered the ageless cold-and-flu-season question: Phlegm. Why?

It begs an answer. The human body is capable of such constant wonder, so much to awe and inspire. And then, phlegm. And not just a little phlegm. Gobs. It’s the only word that really describes the whole phlegm experience.

So I started asking around, and in so doing have learned that there’s a lot more to phlegm than meets the Kleenex.

First, some definitions. Phlegm is really just one form of mucus, which the body produces all over the place to perform useful tasks, says Murray Ramanathan Jr., medical director of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, Md. And because he suffers from chronic sinusitis himself, he gets the whole mucus thing on a pretty personal level.

“The entire lining of the respiratory tract, which includes the nose all the way to the bottom of the lung, makes mucus,” he says. Phlegm, he says, is limited to mucus made in the lung and in the trachea.

Or as Mark Rosen, a pulmonologist at Mount Sinai in New York and a past president of the American College of Chest Physicians, puts it: “Phlegm is something you cough up, not something you blow out.”

When everything is running smoothly, we produce phlegm and mucus every day — about a liter, Ramanathan says. We usually swallow that daily production without even noticing.

Both mucus and phlegm act as general maintenance and cleaning mechanisms, keeping airways moist and tidy and defending against the host of pollutants, particles, viruses and other things that do not belong in your nose or lungs.

“That’s often what you see when you blow your nose,” says Ramanathan, who studies the role of pollutants and environment in respiratory issues. “In foreign countries where diesel exhaust is a major contributor to air pollution and some people use wood fires indoors for cooking, you actually see black deposition and particles from the air pollution.”

But mucus also has an immunological role in sniffing out trouble. It provides proteins that are antiviral and antibacterial. Receptors on the epithelial cells in the airway sense threats and create bug-fighting enzymes in the mucus, which moves along via the cilia—microscopic hair-like structures that can provide propulsion to help eject the foreign substance.

What we call smoker’s cough, Ramanathan says, “is when the components of cigarette smoke get into the lung and cause mucus [and phlegm] to be produced, because cigarette smoke is an irritant to the respiratory lining in both the nose and the lung.”

This primary defense system can be overwhelmed by viruses, bacteria and the resulting inflammation of the airway. That’s when mucus and phlegm production go into overdrive. And often with the increase in quantity, the quality changes too, becoming thicker to better trap and remove the offending material. Before you know it, you’ve achieved gobs status.

Sometimes phlegm can morph from its usual clear to yellow or green, a byproduct of the white blood cells that have charged in to fight infection. And then we as patients get asked that question — What color is it? — since color can sometimes, although not always, indicate the presence of infection.

As someone who tries to avoid inspection of my own snot or phlegm, I’ve always found this a rather disgusting query. But Ramanathan sees it another way. “As a sinus doctor, one of the worst nightmares you get is when people bring into the office the little Ziploc baggie of, ‘Look what I coughed out yesterday!’ In rare cases, they bring in Tupperware.”

So what to do to survive the phlegm stage, besides stock up on tissues and make sure the iPad is fully charged for the Netflix binge? Antibiotics will only help if you have a bacterial infection, and the average cold, no matter how phlegmy, usually doesn’t qualify.

“Just because your phlegm is green doesn’t mean you need antibiotics,” Rosen says. “Your cold and mine, even if you’re coughing up stuff, is usually viral, and there are no antibiotics for a virus.”

If your phlegm gets too gob-like (technical term), over-the-counter meds like Mucinex can help thin it, which makes it easier to expel, Ramanathan says. For the sinuses, using a Neti pot or decongestants can aid the mucus flow, and bending over a pot of steaming water helps some people with the symptoms, he says. I can revert straight to my childhood with the scent of Vicks VapoRub, doubling the comfort factor. And of course, chicken soup.

Eventually, as the illness subsides and the airway calms down and is no longer irritated (phlegmatic, you could say), the system goes back to producing our regular ration of mucus. Something for which we should be grateful every day.


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

February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Bill Snyder Addresses Health Situation

Source: http://www.kstatesports.com

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder addressed today reports of his current health, which will not affect his duties leading the Wildcat program.

“I feel bad having to release this information about my health in this manner prior to sharing it in person with so many personal friends, distant family, players and their families, past and present, and many of the Kansas State football family so close to our program,” Snyder said. “But, with so much talk presently out there, I certainly owe it to everyone to make them aware of my condition.

“I have been diagnosed with throat cancer and have been receiving outpatient treatment at the KU Medical Center for about three weeks and am getting along very well. The doctors and staffs at both KU Med and M.D. Anderson (in Houston, Texas) have been great; working so very well together to finalize the overall treatment plan which is being conducted in Kansas City. Both ‘teams’ have projected a positive outcome and have worked out a schedule that allows me to be in Kansas City for my regular treatments and still be back in the office on a regular basis through the first week of March. Sean, along with our coaching and support staffs, remain highly productive in carrying out their responsibilities keeping us on track.

“I greatly appreciate our President, Richard Myers, and Athletic Director, John Currie, for their continued support, and I’m very grateful to those who have responded over the past 24 hours via calls, texts, emails, etc., with such kind thoughts and words. And again, my apology to each of you whom I did not have the opportunity to reach personally before this release.

“As I’ve said so often: we came to Kansas State University because of the people, we stayed because of the people and we came back because of you, the people. Nothing has changed.

“And most importantly, what an amazing personal family I have been blessed with: Sharon, our children: Sean, Shannon, Meredith, Ross and Whitney and their spouses, along with our eight grandchildren and one great grandchild, have been truly special and motivational for me and for each other during this brief setback. Sharon has made great sacrifices to help me through this and the kids are there every day with their love and encouragement. And today that same love and encouragement is coming from our Kansas State, Manhattan and community families.”

According to Snyder’s doctors, his prognosis is excellent. The hall of fame head coach fully expects to be on the field for the start of spring practice in March.

“Coach Snyder, his family, our football staff, student-athletes and athletics department administration have my full support,” said President Myers. “Coach is one of the most determined individuals I have ever met, and I know he will successfully complete this treatment program and be on the field with our student-athletes in no time.”

“Coach Snyder’s health is of the utmost importance, and he has our full support during this time,” Currie said. “We will provide all of the necessary accommodations he and his family need to ensure a smooth treatment process. He will remain our head coach during this treatment period, and we look forward to seeing him on the field this spring and in pursuit of career win No. 203 on September 2.”

K-State opens spring practice March 29 which will conclude with the Purple/White Spring Game on April 22.


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


February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|