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 751 blog entries.

A Wellness Blogger Who Lied About Having Cancer Has Been Fined $322,000

Source: Motherboard.vice.com
Author: Kaleigh Rogers
Date: September 28, 2017

There are serious consequences that come from hawking pseudoscience online, including harming your readers or yourself. But in case physical harm isn’t enough motivation to quit slinging shady “wellness” advice online, here’s another reason: you could wind up getting fined.

That’s what happened to disgraced Australian wellness blogger Belle Gibson, who has been fined $322,000 for claiming she treated her brain cancer without conventional medicine. Gibson had said she overcame an inoperable brain tumor, stroke, and cardiac arrests through clean eating, and avoiding dairy, gluten, and coffee. Conveniently, these claims helped her to sell her book The Whole Pantry, and app of the same name, raking in nearly half a million AUD. But in 2015, an investigation by Australian Women’s Weekly—complete with Gibson’s confession—revealed it was all a hoax.

In response, Consumer Affairs Victoria brought a case to federal court, and in March Gibson was found guilty of five breaches of consumer law. On Thursday, Gibson was ordered to pay the fine of $410,000 AUD ($322,000 USD).

It’s not the first time shady wellness tips have caused controversy for bloggers. Gwyneth Paltrow’s venture, Goop—the epitome of pseudoscience profiteering—has been called out for flogging all kinds of questionable goods, including a jade vagina egg that some gynecologists warned could cause infections.

Or the wellness trend of eating whole aloe vera leaves that led one vlogger to be hospitalized after eating a poisonous agave plant by mistake.

When wellness bloggers tell the truth, and really do try to fight off cancer without any conventional treatment, it doesn’t usually work out so well. A popular 30-year-old blogger died in 2015 after she tried to cure her cancer with coffee enemas and raw juices. And in case you’re inclined to trust your blogger of choice, lest we forget the former naturopath who told us how easy it was to create and sell a detox diet scam.

Wellness blogging is a trendy, profitable market right now, but let this be a warning: all that easy money can come at a price.

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

B.C. to begin providing free HPV vaccines for Grade 6 boys

Source: ctvnews.ca
Author: Darcy Matheson
Date: September 26, 2017

For the first time in British Columbia, boys in Grade 6 will be receiving free vaccinations for the Human Papillomavirus.

HPV is one of the most commonly sexually transmitted infections and B.C. health authorities say three out of four sexually active people will get it at some point in their lives.

Often showing no physical symptoms, HPV can lead to cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men – and can also cause anal and throat cancer in both men and women.

Up until now, the vaccine to protect against HPV was only provided free to girls in Grade 6, with the assumption that boys would be indirectly protected through “herd immunity.”

Vancouver Coastal Health will soon be sending out letters to parents and caregivers through children’s schools regarding upcoming clinics for both girls and boys.

People can also be immunized through health-care providers, family doctors and local public health units.

Dr. Meena Dawar, medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said that immunizations are key because the symptom-less virus is often passed onto others without knowing it.

“Most often an HPV infection will clear on its own but sometimes HPV won’t go away and cells infected with the virus can become cancerous,” Dawar said in a statement.

Cancer survivor Sandy Yun had her 14-year-old daughter immunized as part of the B.C. program. She was going to pay for her 11-year-old son to get the vaccine but now she will be getting it for free.

“I wouldn’t want my kids, or anyone else, to go through what I went through,” the mom said in a statement.

“We have an easy way to protect our children from cancer, parents: this is a no-brainer.”

Each year in B.C. 200 women will get cervical cancer, and 50 will die from the disease.

B.C. joins Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick in offering the vaccine for free to boys starting this month.

A study published this summer by the Canadian Medical Association Journal said the number of HPV-caused oral cancers has risen sharply in Canada — about 50 per cent between 2000 and 2012.

The majority of the cases featured in the CMAJ study – about 85 per cent – were men.

Researcher and co-author Sophie Huang, a research radiation therapist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, said men have a weaker immune response to HPV than females, which may explain the higher incidence of oral cancers linked to the virus in men.

 

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Treatment That’s Easy to Swallow in HPV+ Throat Cancer

Source: Medscape.com
Author: Nick Mulcahy
Date: September 27, 2017

SAN DIEGO, California ― Daniel Ma, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, treats a lot of relatively young patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancers who are cured by various standard combinations of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy and then have “another 30 to 40 years of life ahead of them.”

But that life expectancy can be marred by the “potentially life-altering side effects” of standard treatment, including dry mouth, loss of taste, and, in about one half of patients, difficulty swallowing, he said.
These patients inspired the genesis of Dr. Ma’s phase 2 study of an “aggressive dose de-escalation” of adjuvant radiation in this setting, he said.

The investigators evaluated experimental radiation doses of 30 to 36 Gy, which is a 50% reduction from the current standard of 60 to 66 Gy.

At a median of 2 years’ follow-up among 80 patients, the treatment de-escalation has resulted in locoregional control rates comparable to historical controls, low toxicity, and, perhaps most notably, no decrement in swallowing function or quality of life, Dr. Ma reported here at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2016 Annual Meeting.

The toxicity and swallowing results are “the most exciting data,” Dr. Ma told a standing-room-only crowd at a meeting session today.

“It’s the first clinical trial in head and neck cancer to demonstrate no injury to swallowing function after radiation,” he told Medscape Medical News. In other words, patients’ ability to swallow was no worse post treatment. In fact, patients’ ability to swallow improved slightly at 1 year following radiation therapy compared to pretreatment (P = .03).

“It’s an exciting concept. Everyone’s going to want to hear more about it,” said Thomas Galloway, MD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was asked for comment about the trial.

The answer is not yet known, but the 2-year results from Dr. Ma are encouraging.

Two-year data indicate that after de-escalated treatment, the rate of locoregional tumor control was 95%, which is comparable to results with standard radiation (60 Gy) from the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0234 trial.

In the Mayo Clinic trial, three patients experienced local recurrence, and one patient experienced a nodal recurrence.

Fox Chase’s Dr. Galloway also observed that, in the new trial, patients received 30 Gy delivered in 1.5 Gy twice a day over 12 days (along with weekly docetaxel, 15 mg/m2, days 1 and 8). Twelve days is a lot shorter than the standard 6 weeks for 60-Gy therapy, but the twice-daily schedule may not be suitable for all patients, he pointed out.

De-escalation radiation therapy is experimental, but a phase 3 study that seeks to confirm the approach, known as the DART-HPV trial, is now underway.

“This is not incremental change,” he told Medscape Medical News. “It’s a stark change from the current standard of care.”

Dr. Galloway and Dr. Ma both said that HPV-positive head and neck cancers are necessitating change, because patients with these cancers are younger and healthier than patients without the virus, whose cancers are typically caused by smoking and alcohol consumption.

Some HPV-positive patients are now being treated without surgery. “What the perfect recipe for treatment is, no one knows for sure,” Dr. Galloway told Medscape Medical News about treatment combinations.

Paul Harari, MD, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said the HPV-positive head and neck cancers, including oropharyngeal cancers, “warrant different treatment approaches.” Standard treatment is toxic ― “make no mistake about it,” Dr Harari commented while acting as moderator at a press conference featuring the dose de-escalation trial.

However, cutting the radiation therapy dosage, he said, prompts a “tense question: can you maintain the cure rate?”

 

More Study Details, Including Toxicity

About half of the study patients, all of whom had oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma, had the above-described 2-week-long treatment schedule. But 43 patients had extracapsular extension, a marker of aggressive disease, and thus received an additional radiation boost to the affected areas, for a total dose of 36 Gy.

Data for both groups of patients were combined in the statistical tallies.

All of the study patients had no evidence of residual disease following surgery and a minimal smoking history (eg, less than one pack per day for 10 years or less). The median patient age was 60.5 years. All patients had stage III or IV disease.

There was also a “very dramatic reduction” in side effects, compared with standard treatment, said Dr. Ma. No patients required percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG); by contrast, with traditional radiation therapy, one fifth to one third of patients undergo PEG.

The PEG feeding tube is inserted through the abdomen into the stomach. Typically, one fifth to one third of patients will receive such a feeding tube during standard treatment for oropharyngeal cancers, he said.

The rate of grade ≥2 toxicities 2 years post radiation therapy was 10%. Again, this compared favorably with 55% rate reported in RTOG 0234.

No patients had grade 3+ toxicity at 1 or 2 years following treatment.

All 14 patients (18%) who experienced cumulative grade 3+ toxicity did so within 3 months of treatment, and all cases resolved by 6 months post treatment. One patient experienced acute grade 4 toxicity related to a chemotherapy reaction, which quickly resolved.

Patient quality of life either improved or did not change following treatment, except with regard to xerostomia. Patients reported worse salivary flow following treatment (P < .0001).

Dr. Ma, his coinvestigators, Dr Galloway, and Dr. Harari have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2017 Annual Meeting. Abstract LBA-14, presented September 26, 2017.

 

 

 

 

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

This Man Tried An ‘Alternative’ Cancer Treatment—and Ended Up Poisoning Himself

Source: Menshealth.com
Author: Alisa Hrustic
Date: September 12, 2017

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the scariest things that can happen to you, but what follows can be even scarier. Treatment for the disease is expensive, painful, and extensive, so it’s not uncommon for people to ponder alternative solutions.

That’s all well and good, as long as it’s approved by your doctor. As for taking medicine into your own hands? That’s not always the best idea, since some alternative treatments can be extremely dangerous. Just recently, one Australian man learned that the hard way, according to a recent case report published in the British Medical Journal.

The 67-year-old man—who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, which had gone into remission—consumed homemade apricot kernel extract daily for five years, since it’s typically marketed as a preventive medicine for cancer. He was also taking a fruit kernel supplement called Novodalin. While he was undergoing a routine surgery, his doctors noticed that his oxygen levels had severely dropped while he was under anesthesia, leading to a condition known as hypoxia, which can be deadly.

Once they performed blood tests on the patient, the doctors concluded that his blood contained 25 times the accepted level of cyanide, a potentially deadly chemical, according to the report.

That’s because apricot kernels contain amygdalin, also known as laetrile. Amygladin is a known cyanogenic glycoside, meaning it’s processed and converted into cyanide in your body, according to the Food and Drug Administration. While laetrile has been talked up for its anticancer properties, no human studies have actually proven its effectiveness in treating the disease. In fact, “no controlled clinical trial of laetrile has ever been conducted,” says the National Cancer Institute.

“Many extracts lack quality control in production and are not subject to extensive testing applied to standard medicines,” the authors of the report write, “hence efficacy and safety cannot be assured.”

Pits and seeds of several fruits—like apricots, apples, peaches, and cherries—can contain substantial amounts of cyanide. Just last July, a man in the U.K. suffered cyanide poisoning after eating cherry seeds.

If you’re exposed to small amounts of cyanide, you may experience dizziness, rapid breathing and heart rate, or headaches. If you consume a large amount, however, it can cause loss of consciousness and even respiratory failure, which can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Luckily, the man described in the case report didn’t die, but his doctors quickly explained that the apricot kernel extract was slowly making him sick. He decided to continue taking it anyway.

Why? “He personally believes that the quality of evidence is sufficient for his purposes,” Alex Konstantatos, M.D., coauthor of the case report and head of pain medicine at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne told The Verge, “or maybe he cannot wait for the scientific proof to come through as it may take too long to prevent his cancer from recurring.” (Check out the video below to see how you may be approaching skin cancer all wrong, too.)

The thing is, people have actually died from ingesting too much cyanide. In 2011, a 2-year-old girl died after eating about 10 apricot kernels, according to a separate case report.

Konstantatos told The Verge that he wrote about this specific case because he wanted to bring awareness to the health implications of alternative medicine. Most doctors typically only ask about prescribed medications, and often aren’t aware of self-prescribed supplements, he says.

That means you should always check in with your doctor first before you consume any supplement, herb, or other popular “treatment”—it may just save your life.

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Why HPV Vaccination Rates Remain Low in Rural States

Source: TechnologyReview.com
Author: Emily Mullin
Date: September 1, 2017

 

Mandi Price never thought she’d be diagnosed with cancer at age 24. She was a healthy college student finishing her senior year when, during a regular Pap smear, her gynecologist found abnormal cells in her cervix. It was stage II cervical cancer.

Even more devastating was the fact that her cancer was preventable. Doctors detected a strain of human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., in Price’s cancer cells. That strain of HPV is targeted by a vaccine called Gardasil. But Price never got the vaccine. Her primary care doctor didn’t recommend it when she was a teenager growing up in Washington state. Had she received it before becoming infected with HPV, she wouldn’t have gotten cancer.

Price dropped out of her classes to get treatment. She needed surgery to remove the tumor from her cervix, then underwent chemotherapy and radiation to kill any remaining cancerous tissue. At her one-year follow-up appointment, doctors found that the cancer had spread. She endured chemotherapy for another six months. Now, at 29, Price is in remission and is working in Los Angeles. “Most of my 20s comprised being in a hospital. It was isolating,” she says.

Merck’s Gardasil vaccine was considered a breakthrough when it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2006. It was the first vaccine to protect against several cancers. But more than a decade after the vaccine came out, vaccination rates in many places in the U.S., especially in the South, Midwest, and Appalachian states, still remain much lower than rates for other childhood vaccines—too low to stop transmission of the most dangerous HPV strains.

In 2016, only about 50 percent of girls and 38 percent of boys had all the required doses of the HPV vaccine needed to be fully protected, according to data released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those figures are up slightly from last year, but still not close to the 80 percent that public health experts want to achieve.

Gardasil is approved to protect against cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancers in girls and women ages 9 through 26, as well as anal cancer for the same age group in both girls and boys. Recently, the vaccine has also been shown to protect against oral cancers in men. HPV causes about 32,000 cancers every year, with cervical cancer the most common for women and oral cancers the most frequent in men.

Electra Paskett, a cancer epidemiologist at Ohio State University, says she is still surprised that the vaccine’s uptake has been so slow. “It’s crazy that there’s not a line around the corner. If we said we have a vaccine for breast cancer, we’d be vaccinating day and night,” she says.

The problem the vaccine has faced is its link to a taboo in American culture: sexual activity among teenagers. About one in four people in the U.S., including teens, are currently infected with HPV. Health-care providers are the biggest hurdle to getting more children vaccinated. Some primary care physicians, like in Price’s case, may not recommend it at all.

For Merck, the world’s largest vaccine maker, Gardasil has been a profit generator even though the company admits the uptake of the vaccine has been surprisingly slow. The company says it’s trying to increase rates by educating health-care providers.

William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, remembers the initial excitement in the medical community when Gardasil first came out. “I thought the advent of our first explicitly anti-cancer vaccine, and the fact that it was so incredibly successful and safe, would be immediately embraced with pizzazz and rose petals,” he says.

Regional differences
State vaccination rates were as high as 73 percent among girls in Rhode Island and as low as 31 percent in South Carolina for all three doses in 2016. Among boys, Wyoming had the lowest rate, with only 20 percent getting the full round of shots.

Overall, teens living in major metropolitan areas were far more likely to get the vaccine than those living in rural areas, which may be more socially conservative and lack access to certain health-care services. In some of these places, average household incomes are lower than the national average, and parents might not be able to afford to take their pre-teens or teens to get the vaccine.

In some states with low vaccination rates, HPV-caused cancers are the among the highest. In Mississippi, for example, only about 34 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys get all required doses of the vaccine. The state also has one of the highest rates of HPV-related cervical cancer in the country. Wyoming tells a similar story, with high rates of HPV-associated cancers in both men and women.

Of course, those cancer rates can’t yet be tied to the states’ low vaccination rates. Gardasil was introduced just over a decade ago, and many of these cancer cases are in people who were too old to get the vaccine when it came out. But it means that these disparities could grow if more people there don’t get the vaccine.

HPV vaccination for boys is especially lagging in some areas. Paskett, who has studied cancer in Appalachia, say there’s a perception that HPV only causes cancers in women. “A lot of parents don’t know that boys should be vaccinated,” she says. Boys and men not only carry HPV but can get HPV-related cancers, like anal, penile, throat, and tongue cancers.

Price says shortly after her cancer diagnosis, she urged her parents to get her two younger brothers vaccinated.

Doctor hesitancy
A 2015 study found that a little over a quarter of the 776 pediatricians and family physicians surveyed do not strongly endorse the HPV vaccine. About one-third of the total doctors surveyed also said that having to talk about a sexually transmitted infection makes them uncomfortable.

Nneka Holder, associate professor of adolescent medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center, says she is frustrated that so many doctors don’t recommend the HPV vaccine because they think it means they have to talk to parents about sex.

“We don’t usually explain to patients how they get hepatitis or meningitis,” she says. “So why should HPV be different?” Instead, she says health-care providers should focus on the cancer prevention aspect of the vaccine, rather than how HPV is spread.

Even health-care providers who do talk to parents about the vaccine aren’t always effective at getting their message across. A study from 2014 found that 47 percent of Minnesota health-care physicians and nurses that did ask parents about their concerns with the vaccine said they lacked time to probe the issue further, and 55 percent felt they couldn’t change parents’ minds.

Schaffner says doctors that are most successful with getting parents on board with the HPV vaccine are the ones who don’t call special attention to it. He says the best tactic is for physicians to sandwich in the HPV vaccine with other recommended vaccines—as in, “It’s time for your son to get the meningococcal, HPV, and Tdap vaccines.”

Parent concerns
Since the vaccine is just over 10 years old, it’s too early to know how many cases of cancer it has prevented so far. But clinical trials have showed that the vaccine provides nearly 100 percent protection against cervical infections caused by certain strains of HPV. These infections have fallen by 64 percent among teen girls in the U.S. since 2006, when the vaccine was introduced. Large clinical trials of the HPV vaccine have also shown it’s safe for both boys and girls.

These benefits have led Virginia, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C., to adopt public school mandates for HPV vaccination. But some parents are still uncomfortable about the HPV vaccine’s association with sex and think their children don’t need it because they’re not sexually active. That has led parents to form groups in opposition to such mandates.

Aimee Gardiner, director of one such group called Rhode Island Against Mandated HPV Vaccine, says she doesn’t see HPV as the “epidemic” she thinks the CDC has made it out to be. “For me the risk of developing a cancer from any HPV is so insignificantly small that I do not feel like the vaccine is a necessity,” she says. Gardiner has two children, one of whom isn’t old enough to receive the vaccine and the other who hasn’t received it. She says she doesn’t plan to vaccinate them with Gardasil.

It’s true that for most people, the immune system clears the virus from their systems naturally. But for a small number of people, HPV persists and can turn cancerous. For those patients, like Price, cancer can be a major life ordeal, not to mention much more expensive than a vaccine that costs about $150 per dose.

Looking ahead
HPV vaccination rates continue to increase steadily, but the problems associated with its uptake could spell trouble for other vaccines in the future. For example, researchers for years have been working on a vaccine that would protect people from contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If a vaccine for HIV were ever to be successful, it could run into the same problems. HIV’s risk factors—unprotected sex and intravenous drug use—make it even more taboo.

Another worry is that rising anti-vaccine sentiments causing parents to opt out of vaccinating their children will hurt efforts to expand HPV vaccine coverage.

One factor that may increase vaccination rates is a new guideline from the CDC announced in October 2016. Children ages 11 to 14 now only need two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart instead of three, which was previously recommended. Teens 15 and older still need to complete the three-dose series. This change may increase uptake of the vaccine, as vaccination rates drop off after each dose.

For Price and other cancer patients, the thought of not getting a vaccine that could prevent something so terrible is unimaginable. “I am a huge proponent of it,” she says. “If you had the chance to prevent cancer in your son or daughter, why wouldn’t you do that?”

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

FDA Approves First Gene Therapy For Leukemia

Source: npr.org
Author: Rob Stein
Date: August 30, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced what the agency calls a “historic action” — the first approval of a cell-based gene therapy in the United States.

The FDA approved Kymriah, which scientists refer to as a “living drug” because it involves using genetically modified immune cells from patients to attack their cancer.

The drug was approved to treat children and young adults up to age 25 suffering from a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia who do not respond to standard treatment or have suffered relapses.

The disease is a cancer of blood and bone marrow that is the most common childhood cancer in the United States. About 3,100 patients who are 20 and younger are diagnosed with ALL each year.

“We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a written statement.

“New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses,” Gottlieb said.

The treatment involves removing immune system cells known as T cells from each patient and genetically modifying the cells in the laboratory to attack and kill leukemia cells. The genetically modified cells are then infused back into patients. It’s also known as CAR-T cell therapy.

“Kymriah is a first-of-its-kind treatment approach that fills an important unmet need for children and young adults with this serious disease,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

“Not only does Kymriah provide these patients with a new treatment option where very limited options existed, but a treatment option that has shown promising remission and survival rates in clinical trials,” Marks said in the FDA statement.

The treatment, which is also called CTL019, produced remission within three months in 83 percent of 63 pediatric and young adult patients. The patients had failed to respond to standard treatments or had suffered relapses. Based on those results, an FDA advisory panel recommended the approval in July.

The treatment does carry risks, however, including a dangerous overreaction by the immune system known as cytokine-release syndrome. As a result, the FDA is requiring strong warnings.

In addition, the treatment will be initially available only at 32 hospitals and clinics that have been specially trained in administering the therapy.

Novartis, which developed the drug, says the one-time treatment will cost $475,000 for patients who respond. People who do not respond within a month would not be charged, and the company said it is taking additional steps to make sure everyone who needs the drug can afford it

But some patient advocates criticized the cost nevertheless.

“While Novartis’ decision to set a price at $475,000 per treatment may be seen by some as restraint, we believe it is excessive,” says David Mitchell, founder and president of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “Let’s remember, American taxpayers invested over $200 million in CAR-T’s discovery.”

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

More U.S. Teens Getting Vaccinated Against HPV

Source: http://health.usnews.com
Date: 8/24/17

THURSDAY, Aug. 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Six out of 10 U.S. parents are choosing to get their children vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread by sexual contact, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The bad news: while most children are getting their first dose of HPV vaccine, many aren’t completing the full vaccination schedule, the officials said.

“I’m pleased with the progress, but too many teens are still not receiving the HPV vaccine — which leaves them vulnerable to cancers caused by HPV infection,” CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in an agency news release. “We need to do more to increase the vaccination rate and protect American youth today from future cancers tomorrow.”

An estimated 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. The infection can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, and penile cancer in men. It can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer and genital warts in both men and women, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends two doses of HPV vaccine for children at ages 11 or 12. Teens who get the first vaccine dose before their 15th birthday need two doses to be protected. Teens and young adults who start the vaccine series between ages 15 through 26 need three doses, according to the agency.

In its new report, the CDC said 60 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 received one or more doses of HPV vaccine in 2016 — an increase of 4 percentage points from 2015.

And the report found that HPV vaccination is becoming more common among boys. An estimated 65 percent of girls received their first dose of HPV vaccine in 2016, compared to 56 percent of boys. That represents a 6 percentage point increase for boys from 2015. Rates for girls were about the same as 2015, the CDC said.

But agency officials said they’re concerned because, while most teens have received the first dose of HPV vaccine, only 43 percent are up to date on all recommended doses. Vaccination rates tend to be lower in rural and less urban areas compared to more urban areas, the CDC said.

“Recent changes to the vaccine recommendations mean preventing cancer is easier now than ever before,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who directs the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Now is the time for parents to protect their children from cancers caused by HPV.”

Latest statistics show that HPV vaccination has led to significant drops in HPV infections: HPV-related cancers and genital warts have decreased by 71 percent among teen girls and 61 percent among young women, the CDC said.

The CDC findings were published in the Aug. 25 issue of the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Dr. Lois Ramondetta is a professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

She said the new CDC report shows that education and outreach efforts to parents about the HPV vaccine are working, with vaccination rates moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.

Ramondetta said it’s also encouraging to see that the vaccination gap between boys and girls is shrinking.

“However, the data also show that we have a long way to go, particularly with children completing the vaccine series,” she added. “It is concerning that more parents and physicians aren’t taking advantage of this safe and effective vaccine to prevent several cancers in their children. I recently vaccinated my own daughter, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to protect her in this way.”

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Big tobacco fuels nicotine replacement addiction, UCSF study shows

Source: http://www.sfgate.com
Author: Lizzie Johnson
Date: August 17, 2017

Nicotine patches, lozenges, inhalers and gum have long been marketed as ways of helping addicts break the habit. But such products by themselves won’t do the job — something tobacco companies themselves have taken advantage of to boost their profits, new research from UCSF says.

Nicotine replacement therapy products, which have been sold over the counter at drugstores since 1996, are effective only when paired with counseling, according to a UCSF study released Thursday. Without that, relying on such products can actually make it harder to kick tobacco, the study found.

UCSF researchers who reviewed millions of pages of internal tobacco company documents said the firms have long known that such products by themselves don’t wean users off cigarettes, and market their own smokeless nicotine to keep users addicted.

“Those products should not be used unless they are done in the proper way,” said Stanton Glantz, an author of the study, professor of medicine at UCSF and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“The problem is, without the behavioral support, they actually inhibit quitting,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people think they are making progress and quitting when that’s not so. That’s what tobacco companies have known for decades. They’re developing products under the guise of nicotine replacement therapy.”

Some of the biggest tobacco companies, including RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, have developed nicotine accessories. Many corner stores stock the products, some of them in brightly colored packages, next to chocolate bars and other candy near the cash register.

Medi-Cal and many private health insurance policies cover the cost of quitting aids. State-subsidized insurance will pay for two annual courses of treatment with pills such as Chantix and Zyban, Nicorette lozenges, Nicorette gum and NicoDerm CQ Patches.

But people are more likely to use those products as complements to smoking — at work or in airplanes when cigarettes are banned — instead of as a tool to quit, the UCSF study found. Nicotine replacement products can be effective if people combine them with counseling and consultation with a doctor, but the majority of consumers don’t use them that way, researchers said.

Randomized clinical trials cited in the study showed that people who went to counseling and tapered their use of nicotine replacement therapy products over time were successful. Those who didn’t were not.

A 2009 study in the BMJ — formerly known as the British Medical Journal — found that of the 2,767 smokers tested, only 6.75 percent were able to abstain from cigarettes for six months while using nicotine replacement therapy products.

Nicotine patches and gum were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1984, and the tobacco industry originally saw them as a threat, the UCSF study said. By 1992, however, company executives determined such products would not help smokers quit, and that there was money to be made from them. By 2009, tobacco companies were selling their own nicotine patches, lozenges and e-cigarettes.

“It was surprising to discover the industry came to view NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) as just another product,” said Dorie Apollonio, an associate professor in clinical pharmacy at UCSF and lead author of the study. “The tobacco companies want people to get nicotine — and they’re open-minded about how they get it.”

Representatives of RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco did not respond to requests for comment.

Apollonio’s researchers analyzed 90 million pages of documents from seven tobacco companies dating back as far as 1960, obtained in litigation against the tobacco industry.

Those papers showed that the tobacco industry began developing its own nicotine replacement products after its research showed that some smokers used them in addition to tobacco.

“The way the marketing is framed, it is explicitly discouraging quitting,” Glantz said. “The tobacco companies know more about tobacco products than anybody else. Now they are selling these products in a way that protects their market. I do not think most health professionals are aware of this.”

But some are. Derek Smith, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Free Project, said he encourages smokers to check with their pharmacists or doctors before trying a nicotine replacement therapy like a patch or pill.

“You can’t plop on a patch and expect to quit smoking,” he said. “It’s part of the arsenal to tackle this complicated addiction. Smokers know better than anyone how hard it is to quit. It takes eight or 10 times before it sticks. In my experience, they are really aware what a tough addiction it is and how a patch isn’t the magical solution.”

A free smoking cessation program offered by the city at San Francisco General Hospital funnels smokers through a seven-class session. The weekly meetings teach participants how to create a plan with a quit date and identify stressful situations that lead to smoking. Instructors teach them to drink more water and improve their diet to help cope with cravings.

Patches, gum and e-cigarettes can be useful tools, Smith said. It didn’t surprise him that the tobacco industry had started creating its own products.

“Those internal documents reveal their intentions,” he said. “It’s always fascinating to see how the tobacco industry is thinking. They have an opportunistic assessment of the market. It never ceases to amaze me.”

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer patients who use alternative medicine more than twice as likely to die

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/
Date: August 15, 2017

After five years, 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies.

A new study has shown that cancer sufferers who turn to alternative therapies in preference to conventional medicine are more than twice as likely to die.

Scientists from America’s prestigious Yale University found that patients were more likely to be cured through conventional medicine, despite anecdotal evidence from some who say their cancer was cured by turning to natural or alternative remedies, .

Researchers sifted through the National Cancer Database for their study “Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and its Impact on Survival”.

They tracked 280 people who were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and opted for alternative medicine and 560 “control” cancer patients who underwent conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

After five years, 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies.

The study also looked at different types of cancer including breast, lung, prostate and colorectal.

They found those with lung cancer were twice as likely to die after five years if they had opted for alternative therapies.

Breast cancer patients who used alternative therapies were five times as likely to have lost their lives to the disease.Colorectal cancer patients were four times more likely to die if they rejected conventional medicine in favour of alternative treatment.

Alternative medicine, advocated by some outside the medical profession to treat cancer includes chiropractic treatment, homeopathy, acupuncture and juice diets.

The researchers could not specifically identify which alternative medicines subjects were using.

Other limitations of the data include unmeasured confounders or selection bias that could impact survival, the researchers noted.

”However, because patients receiving alternative medicine were more likely to be younger, more affluent, more well-educated, and less burdened with comorbidities, this would not likely account for the observed survival differences,” they concluded.

The researchers concluded that patients who chose treatment alongside alternative medicine were more likely to die and urged for greater scrutiny of the use of alternative medicine for the initial treatment of cancer.

“We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival,” said lead author Skyler Johnson.

“It is our hope that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the impact of cancer treatment decisions on survival.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

A Guide On How To Fight Your Outrageous Hospital Bill (And Win)

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com
Author: Gemma Hartley
Date: 8/4/2017

My medical bill nightmare started out fairly normally. My toddler fell and hurt her wrist. Since she has a flair for the dramatic, she let her wrist flop, looking broken as she screamed in agony. My husband and I examined her wrist and couldn’t figure out how serious the situation was, so we played it safe and took her to the emergency room. She had a mild sprain, it turned out. She was in and out ― no medication, no nothing.

I knew there would be an obscene bill for taking her to the ER, but I had no idea just how shocking it would be. When I received the bill for my daughter, I seriously hoped that something was amiss. The amount was nearly $800 (which was more than we could afford at the time), and before insurance it had been nearly $3,000.

Could the bill really be that huge for a 15-minute visit? I couldn’t fathom it, so I requested an itemized bill ― a habit I picked up after hearing horror stories of new mothers being charged outrageously in labor and delivery. An itemized bill almost always contains errors, which is why I wasn’t about to pay a penny before carefully looking over my daughter’s charges.

There were a couple of small errors, such as overpriced medicines she didn’t receive, but it wasn’t the $14 aspirin hiking up her bill. I called the hospital to ask about my daughter’s charge entry, which was was outlandishly high, nearly $2,600 of the $3,000 total bill. The woman in the billing office told me that charge entry levels were codes used to determine the severity of cases entering the ER. They will dictate what reimbursements the hospital should receive, and they are entered in by the doctor. And as for mistakes in charge entry levels? They aren’t uncommon.

“We see the same issue not just in the ER, but in other areas of the hospital (and even in an office setting),” said Sean McSweeney, president of Apache Health, a medical billing company for clinics and hospitals. “These issues are often unintentional, but are simply the result of a doctor trying to quickly code and move on.” However, McSweeney also says this process can be tampered with. Providers can check boxes for procedures as simple as reviewing medical history or spending extra time with the patient. These things have the potential to kick up the charge entry coding level.

My daughter was billed as Level 3 (out of 4) for a barely perceptible sprain. The woman I spoke to advised that I call the emergency physician’s office. It felt like I was being given the runaround, but calling turned up some interesting information.

I discovered the charge entry level the doctor put in didn’t match what the hospital put in. (Still, the doctor coded my daughter’s visit as Level 2, which left me wondering what on Earth a Level 1 visit looks like.) I also did a bit of sleuthing and found that putting in a higher entry level, known as upcoding, can drastically hike up ER bills. While I didn’t realize it at the time, it’s illegal.

Fixing the error, however, was not as easy as simply pointing it out. I had to have the bill suspended, which involved sending a dated, signed letter to the hospital requesting the information be re-examined. The bill showed up again. The hospital claimed to have never received the letter, so I sent another. I spent hours on the phone being shuffled between the billing office, the physician’s office, and at one point the bill was even sent to collections, who called relentlessly, nonplussed by my claim of errors in the medical billing process.

I also did a bit of sleuthing and found that putting in a higher entry level, known as upcoding, can drastically hike up ER bills. While I didn’t realize it at the time, it’s illegal.

The fight to reconcile this error turned into a two-year battle, culminating in the bill being discarded because of the number of errors the hospital made throughout the process. Throughout the saga I kept a careful paper trail, noting each date I received a bill, whom I spoke with on the phone, what next steps had been suggested and taken. I reported the hospital to the Better Business Bureau, which was another waste of my time (medical providers have terrible ratings, but also don’t have competition).

I eventually began recording the calls, making it known to the person on the other line and mentioning upcoding each time I called. It was only at the point when I revealed I had recorded evidence and a paper trail that the hospital decided to write off the charges.

I wish I had known from the start how to handle erroneous charges on high medical bills. Had I known to use the word “upcoding” in my first conversation with the billing department, I might have saved hours spent on the phone. Fortunately, I kept careful records, which gave me the upper hand, but I shouldn’t have spent two years of stressful fighting when they were so clearly in the wrong. Had I known the ramifications of upcoding, I would have reported them to my insurer and had them investigated for fraud.

The fight against medical fraud

Organizations like the Nation Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) are working to crack down on medical fraud to ensure that insurers and patients aren’t footing the bill for medical providers who bend the facts ― and the government is behind them. The Justice Department participated in the government’s largest health care fraud takedown in U.S. history last month, in which 412 defendants, including 56 doctors, were charged with scamming American taxpayers out of more than $1 billion in opioid-related abuses.

“The vast majority of health care providers are honest and do what they need to do for their patients, but it only takes a small number to really have a negative impact on the entire system,” NHCAA CEO Louis Saccoccio told Fox News in an interview following the takedown.

Upcoding isn’t a mistake that simply makes you pay more (even though that’s enough to make you go red in the face with rage). It can permanently mess with your medical records when your information is incorrectly recorded. If you are upcoded in a way that indicates you have a medical problem that doesn’t exist, it could cost in a lot more than a big bill in the long run ― making you look like more of a liability to insurers. The opposite can be equally damaging, as in the 1995 case of a Brooklyn doctor in New York who performed brief medical reviews (instead of the full physicals she billed for), which resulted in multiple patients being wrongfully denied Social Security disability benefits over the course of four years.

While the Affordable Care Act made it illegal to deny a patient coverage based on pre-existing conditions, congressional Republicans have been consistently battling to erode the ACA and its protections. If you are erroneously charged for a health condition you don’t have because of upcoding, it could affect your ability to get health care coverage.

It’s crucial to spot these medical bill errors and remedy them immediately. If you don’t, it could cost you now and later.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|