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The scary reason doctors say kids need HPV vaccinations

Source: www.washingtonpost.com
Author: Sarah Vander Schaaff

When actor Michael Douglas told a reporter that his throat cancer was caused by HPV contracted through oral sex, two themes emerged that had nothing to do with celebrity gossip. The first was incredulity — since when was oral sex related to throat cancer? Even the reporter thought he had misheard. The second was embarrassment. This was too much information, not only about sexual behavior but also about one’s partners.

Douglas apologized, and maybe the world was not ready to hear the greater truth behind what he was suggesting.

That was four years ago.

Today, there is no doubt in the medical community that the increase in HPV-related cancers such as the one Douglas described — which he later explained was found at the base of his tongue — is caused by sexual practices, in his case cunnilingus. And there is an urgency to better treat and prevent what is becoming the one type of oral cancer whose numbers are climbing, especially among men in the prime of their lives who have decades to live with the consequences of their cancer treatment.

The number of people diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, tumors found in the middle of the pharynx or throat including the back of the tongue, soft palate, sides of throat and tonsils — is relatively small — about 12,638 men and 3,100 women in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But these numbers are expected to continue to rise, overtaking incidence of cervical cancer by 2020. One study revealed the presence of HPV in 20.9 percent of oropharyngeal tumors before 1990, compared with 65.4 percent in those sampled after 2000.

Alarming trend
It’s an alarming trend considering HPV, or human papilloma­virus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. The CDC estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women will get a form of the virus at some point. Although most HPV infections go away on their own, they are causing 30,700 cancers in men and women every year, including cervical, vaginal and penile cancers along with oral cancers.

Health agencies are pushing hard for HPV vaccinations, which they say could prevent most of those cancers. The CDC says all 11- and 12-year-olds should be ­vaccinated. And last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new two-dose series for children ages 9 to 14. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its vaccine recommendations to reflect that two-dose schedule, a reduction from the three shots previously required. (Children over 14 still need three shots.) The hope is to increase rates of completed vaccinations, which have lagged in the decade since the vaccines were released, averaging 42 percent for girls and 28 percent for boys, far below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80­ percent.

The patients showing up in Ben Roman’s office at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he works as a head and neck surgeon and ­health-services researcher, came of age not only before these vaccines hit the market, but also before HPV and its link to cancers was fully understood. These cases, experts say, probably reflect several separate but interconnected factors: the sexual revolutions of the 1920s and 1960s that introduced more HPV into the general population, the changing sexual practices of young people who report more histories of oral sex, and that it can take 10 to 30 years for tumors to develop after an infection.

Roman has seen an increase in a new type of head and neck cancer patient. They are typically white, middle-aged men, ­otherwise healthy, who have no history of smoking or drinking. They may have first noticed a mass in their necks or lymph nodes while buttoning a shirt or shaving. An ear, nose and throat doctor has determined the primary source of the cancer: the tonsils or base of the tongue.

“Most people are familiar with tonsils in the back of the throat,” Maura Gillison, a leading expert in HPV-related cancers at the ­University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said. “But we also have them in the base of the tongue.”

The palatine tonsils are on the sides of the throat, and there are also lingual tonsils on the back of the tongue. Both areas are made of the same lymphoid tissue at particular risk for HPV infection, and are part of what specialists call Waldeyer’s Ring.

Experts are not sure why an HPV infection in the tonsils is more likely to lead to cancer. It could be because of their anatomy, which has crypts and crevices, making it harder to clear an infection. Gillison said it could also be because of where the tonsils are in the body, an area that serves as a transition from the outside to the inside, much like the genital tract and cervix.

German researcher Harald zur Hausen identified the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer 34 years ago, work that earned him the Nobel Prize in 2008 and contributed to the development of the HPV vaccine. One of those types, HPV-16, is identified in more than half of cancers in the oropharynx, according to the National Cancer Institute.

But there are important distinctions between men and women when it comes to HPV-related cancers. Cervical cancer deaths, for example, have been greatly reduced through early detection with the use of Pap smears. The same screening for precursor lesions or pre-cancer is not yet possible for the oropharyngeal cancers, commonly referred to as OPC or OSCC, for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas.

The male risk
Another difference is how men and women respond to infection. The majority of women develop antibodies to clear HPV when exposed vaginally. These antibodies remain in the body so that a woman is protected from a subsequent oral infection. Men, in contrast, are much less likely to develop antibodies after genital exposure to the virus. When tested, their titers — a measurement of antibodies — are lower, leaving them five times more likely than women to have an oral infection.

HPV is considered an unusual virus because it does not travel through the bloodstream. Infection is localized, meaning it stays at the place where contact occurs. In tonsil cancer, then, oral sex becomes a relevant risk factor, so significant that in an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Gillison and her colleagues stated that the number of these oral sex partners in a lifetime is the behavior measure that is, “. . . most strongly, consistently, and specifically associated with OPC (tonsil and base of tongue).”

Treating a cancer related to a sexually transmitted infection brings up sensitive questions. Roman said a patient’s spouse will often pull him aside to ask: “When did he get this? Was he cheating?” He suggests the patient was probably exposed years ago. But from the viewpoint of prognosis, the HPV-related cancers respond better to treatment.

That fact has prompted rapid changes in treatment protocols that were as recently as five years ago based on heavy smoking and drinking. These new strategies back down from the aggressive radiation, chemotherapy and surgery that exposed patients to high toxicity and could damage the ability to speak and swallow.

When Gillison started her research in 2000, there was little awareness that sexual behavior contributed to cancer of the throat, and fellow researchers were skeptical.

“People were laughing. They thought it was absurd,” she said. Now, Gillison is credited with formally putting together the behavioral data and biomarkers to quell any skepticism, Carole Fakhry, an associate professor of otolaryngology and surgeon at Johns ­Hopkins, said.

Others had noted HPV in oral cavity cancer, but no one was sure whether it was a fluke or more significant. So Gillison reviewed tumor specimens collected by a colleague and then set out to study all of the available ­literature, presenting an analysis in 2009 that compared the ­survival rates of those with HPV-positive and -negative oropharynx cancers. Gillison describes her work — a confluence of observations in the lab and clinic — as an act of serendipity.

“I have always been interested in the association between ­infectious diseases and tumors because there are so many ­opportunities to intervene. If an infection causes a cancer, you can try to prevent infection in the first place, or screen, or if it’s developed you can use the fact that it’s associated with a virus — you can treat cancer by treating infection.”

As far as vaccination’s effect on preventing OPC in men, data is still under review. Officially, the vaccine is recommended for boys and young men to prevent genital warts and anal pre-cancers. But those focused on pediatrics, such as Margaret Stager, director of adolescent medicine at MetroHealth medical center in Ohio and an official spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that HPV vaccination clearly decreases spreading of HPV through the community, offering immediate, midrange and long-term benefits. And the current vaccines do protect against HPV-16, one of the high-risk types of the virus found in both cervical cancer and a majority of OPC.

New, easier vaccine
The new two-dose vaccination is designed to reach children when their antibody response is highest and make completion less cumbersome, as are electronic medical records that cue physicians when a vaccine is due. The District of Columbia is one of the few areas that has made the vaccine a required immunization for students in grades six through 12, although families may opt out.

There is still a gap in knowledge among some general ­practitioners and dentists, according to Gillison.

It is not uncommon for her to hear a story from a patient who comes to her after six months or so after going to his doctor.

“He told me not to worry ­because I was fighting off an infection. He gave me antibiotics. They were not working. Then ­another lump occurred next to that one . . . ”

The patient is young, healthy and doesn’t smoke. He has a sore throat and a neck mass that doesn’t respond to antibiotics.

Those in the front lines of ­medical practice, she said, should have in mind the question: Could this patient have head and neck cancer?

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

UK cancer patient receives new jaw thanks to 3D printing

Source: http://www.3ders.org/
Author: staff

3D printing techniques are being adopted with increasing regularity in surgery of all kinds, and more and more patients are seeing a hugely improved quality of life thanks to the unique benefits of the technology. The most recent success story took place in the UK, where a patient’s jawbone was entirely reconstructed using bone from his leg. The pioneering surgical procedure made use of 3D printing at various different stages.

Stephen Waterhouse was diagnosed with throat cancer eight years ago, and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy in order to fight it. The treatments were a great success and his cancer went away, but they had an unfortunate side effect. His jawbone had started to crumble, and emergency surgery was required before it completely disintegrated. The 53-year-old was taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital, which had purchased a new 3D printer just two years previously.

Costing the hospital trust around £150,000 (about $188K), the machine is the only one of its kind in the country, and was a crucial part of the effort to save the patient’s jawbone. A 3D model was designed from a scan of his remaining intact jaw and printed out as a mold, which was then used to reconstruct the jaw using bone taken from his fibula. The operation lasted around 12 hours and was a great success.

According to Daya Gahir, consultant in maxillofacial and head and neck surgery, the hospital does “at least 40 major head and neck reconstructions per year. Around 10 to 15 cases will be done in this way using the printer.” The procedure is very intricate, and the hospital’s purchase of the 3D printer has revolutionized the way his team operates. “Some of the leg bone was taken then reshaped, as you have to replace bone with bone. We took away some of the skin from the leg as well and replanted it back into the neck. A face is not easy to reconstruct, it is intricate.”

New software for the 3D printer was developed last year, which allows the whole process to be planned and carried out within the hospital. Without this, Stephen may have had to travel to Germany for the operation to be completed, according to Gahir. Using the 3D printer in this way saves a lot of time and effort for patient and medical team alike, as well as cutting costs. Around £11,000 is saved for each case by carrying out the whole surgical process on-site.

Stephen is still in recovery and has praised the care he is receiving from staff, as well as the effectiveness of the surgery. “I am so pleased with the results,” he says, “you can’t tell the difference between the two sides of my mouth.”

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Magnolia man joins exclusive trial in battle against cancer

Source: www.cantonrep.com
Author: Denise Sautters

Rich Bartlett is looking forward to getting back to his hobbies — woodworking and nature watching — and enjoying a good steak and potato dinner. Until then, though, he is in a fight for his life, one he plans to win.

Bartlett is a cancer patient and the first participant in a clinical trial at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland to test the safety of an immunotherapy drug — Pembrolizumab — when added to a regimen of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Back to the beginning
Bartlett went to the dentist in October for a checkup.

“He had a sore in his mouth he thought was an abscess,” explained his wife, Nancy Bartlett, who pointed out that, because radiation and chemo treatments cause the inside of the mouth to burn and blister, it is hard for Bartlett to talk.

“When the dentist looked at his sore, he sent Richard to a specialist in Canton, and in early November, he had a biopsy done. It came back positive for cancer.”

From there, he was referred to Dr. Pierre Lavertu, director of head and neck surgery and oncology at University Hospitals, and Dr. Chad Zender from the otolaryngology department, who did Bartlett’s surgery.

“They let us know it was serious,” said Nancy. “It had gone into the bone and the roof of the mouth, but they were not sure if it had gone into the lymph nodes. By the time we got through that appointment, it was the first part of December and (they) scheduled him for surgery on Dec. 22.”

The cancer tripled in size by then and the surgery lasted 10 hours. Doctors had to remove the tumor, all of the lymph nodes and parts of the jaw and the roof of Bartlett’s mouth.

“They harvested skin from his hand to rebuild the inside of his mouth, and took the veins and arteries and reattached everything through his (right) cheek,” she said. “He could not even have water until February because of the patch. He uses a feeding tube to eat now.”

The tube is temporary until Bartlett heals.

Clinical trial
Just before he started chemo and radiation therapies, the hospital called him about the clinical trial.

The trial is the first to use quadra-modality therapy — or four different types of therapy — against the cancer, according to Dr. Min Yao, the principal investigator.

Yao said Bartlett has squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, with only a 50 percent chance of survival.

“Patients have surgery, then followed by six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and immunotherapy,” Yao said in an email interview. “That is followed by six more months of immunotherapy, one dose every three weeks.”

Bartlett currently is in the radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy part of the study.

“It is too early to tell how he is responding,” said Yao. “His tumor has been resected. After the treatment, we will see them periodically with scans. Cancer often recurs in the first two years after treatment.”

Pembrolizumab originally was developed to activate the body’s immune system in the fight against melanoma. Former president Jimmy Carter was treated with the drug for his brain metastases from melanoma in 2015.

A truck driver by trade, Bartlett will undergo daily fluoride treatments for the rest of his life to protect his teeth.

“We did not realize until we got to Cleveland just how bad this was,” said Nancy. “When you have oral cancer, and they are getting ready to do radiation and chemo, you have to go have your teeth cleaned and examined and get anything done that needs to be done because radiation tends to compromise your blood flow in your mouth. That was a step we didn’t know.”

Although he was shocked to hear the outcome of that sore in his mouth, Bartlett is grateful to be a part of the trial.

“Who wouldn’t feel good about something like this? I mean, you got something that was used on Jimmy Carter, who is recovered and is now making public appearances again,” said Bartlett, who is looking forward to June when hopefully he can start eating again and enjoying his hobbies.

“I am very hopeful about this. The whole thing has been a trial. I have a dentist in Cleveland who said I was going to be in the fight of my life, and I am. I am in a huge fight. The chemotherapy is what has knocked me down the most, but I am very positive about the outcome of this.”

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Game changer’ HPV vaccine is now just 2 shots – not 3 – in bid to simplify

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Mary Kekatos for dailymail.com

  • HPV vaccines will now be administered in two doses instead of three
  • The virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US
  • But only 28% of boys and 42% of girls received the advised three doses in 2015
  • Doctors hope the new guidelines increase the number of kids who get the shot

The HPV vaccine will now be administered in two doses instead of three, new guidelines declare. The new rules, published on Monday, come after years of campaigns from cancer experts insisting an easier schedule would encourage more people to protect themselves from the sexually-transmitted infection.

Human papillomavirus (or, HPV) is the most common STI in the United States, affecting around 79 million people. It has been linked to numerous cancers – including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectum and cervical cancer.

Experts claim more widespread vaccine coverage of middle school children could prevent 28,000 cancer diagnoses a year. Currently, fewer than half the children eligible for the vaccine – given out as three doses over six months – are covered. Experts blame the lengthy, arduous schedule.

The American Cancer Society today endorsed the updated recommendations, which were released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Dr Debbie Saslow, Senior Director, HPV Related and Women’s Cancers for the American Cancer Society, said: ‘In the past several years, studies have shown the vaccine is even more effective than expected.

‘This new two-dose regimen is easier to follow, and we now know is very effective in preventing HPV, which is linked to a half dozen types of cancer.’

Each year, about 14 million people become newly infected with HPV. According to the CDC, each year about 19,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in women in the US, with cervical cancer being the most common. And about 8,000 cancers caused by HPV occur each year in men in the US and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are the most common. Besides cervical cancer, HPV has been linked to vaginal, vulvar, oropharyngeal, anal, and penile cancers.

Despite strong evidence of safety and effectiveness, vaccination rates in the US remains very low compared to other countries. Only 28 percent of boys and 42 percent of girls aged 13 to 17 years receiving the recommended three doses in 2015. The skewed figures between genders are largely attributable to the fact that the jab was only offered to boys as a standard vaccine as of last year.

Previously, it was believed HPV was most strongly linked with cervical cancer in women. Research since has shown links with penile, anal, mouth, throat and other cancers in men. However, the gender divide does not fully account for the staggeringly low levels of coverage overall.

Despite the three vaccines that are widely available, the number who choose to be vaccinated remains low, and the age they wait to do so has increased. Only Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia require the vaccine for students.

In response to these figures last year, the ACIP, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted a thorough review of clinical trial data on HPV vaccines. They found that the vaccine in younger adolescents (aged nine to 14 years) produced an immune response similar or higher than the response in young adults (aged 16 to 26 years) who received three doses.

Generally, preteens receive the HPV vaccine at the same time as whooping cough and meningitis vaccines and it is administered before the likely chance of sexual contact.

The new schedule, approved by the FDA in October 2016, states that two doses of HPV vaccine given at least six months apart at ages 11 and 12 will provide ‘safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against HPV cancers’. Even adolescents between ages 13 and 14 are able to receive the HPV vaccination on the new two-dose schedule.
For patients who did not receive HPV vaccination before age 15, three doses are still required and may be given to females up to age 26 and males up to age 21.

February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Silk and stem cells are being used to generate salivary glands

Source: biotechin.asia
Author: Manish Muhuri

Saliva is a watery substance secreted by the salivary glands located in the mouth. Saliva is essential for good health, as it assists in speaking, swallowing, food digestion, preventing oral infections in addition to many other tasks. Without normal salivary function the frequency of dental caries, gum disease (gingivitis), and other oral problems increases significantly.

Location and types of salivary glands in humans. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

Dysfunction or reduction in activity of salivary glands can be caused by many factors, including diabetes, radiation therapy for head and neck tumors, aging, medication side effects, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tear ducts and salivary glands. Patients suffering from this disease have severely dry mouth. No treatments are currently available for dry mouth. Salivary glands, unfortunately, have very little regenerative capacity.

The title must have left you wondering about the correlation between silk and saliva – what do they have in common? They are both actually part of a unique experiment going on in San Antonio, a study that could change the lives of millions of people who suffer from dry mouth.

Chih-Ko Yeh , BDS, Ph.D., and Xiao-Dong Chen, MD, MS, Ph.D., of the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry decided there had to be a better way to help people than try to develop drugs and figured that stem cells may help solve a common, painful problem.

Yeh said the idea is to use stem cells from the patient’s own body derived from bone marrow to grow new salivary gland cells. In order to coax those stem cells into becoming the right kind of cell, researchers are using silk from worms and spiders as scaffolding.

Silk is a natural protein that mimics the micro-environment of the salivary gland. Silk works well, the scientists say, because it’s biodegradable, flexible and porous, providing easy access to the oxygen and nutrition the cells need to grow. Chen and his partner are using rats to test out ways to place the cells in the body to jump-start tissue repair.

“Then we can deliver those cells to a damaged salivary gland by injection, local injection,” Chen explained.

Yeh and Chen’s early work was published in the journal Tissue Engineering.

Experts said this leap into regenerative medicine is intriguing while patients like Willette are holding out hope. “There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to find something to help with this,” Willette said.

In 2016, the researchers received a grant of more than a million dollars from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (part of the National Institutes of Health) to continue their promising work.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Epigenetic modification discovered in adult throat cancers

Source: www.specialtypharmacytimes.com
Author: Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

An epigenetic modification may be the cause of 15% of adult head and neck cancers that are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, according to a study published in Nature Genetics.

Although the body is made up of a large number of different types of cells––neurons, skins cells, fat cells, immune cells–– they all have the same DNA or genome. It was not until recently that scientists discovered their differences can be explained by epigenetics.

“This discovery was absolutely unexpected since it seemed highly improbable that the kind of alterations of the epigenome that we had previously found in other types of tumors in children and young adults could also target an epithelial tumor like throat cancer that occurs only in adults,” said Dr Nada Jabado.

There are already some promising drug molecules currently on the market for other diseases that could be tested for head and neck cancers, as well as other cancer types, according to the study. Additionally, the investigators hope that the findings could help in developing treatments for pediatric patients.

“Now that we’ve identified this cohort of patients, we can move quite quickly since the case of adults, as opposed to children, there are more patients and lots of clinical trials,” Dr Jabado said. “The medicines could then be tested on children afterward.”

Dr Jabado’s work focuses on epigenetics in pediatric cancers, particularly on the mutations of the histone H3 protein. In particular, the investigators were interested in a 2015 publication by the Tumor Cancer Genome Atlas Consortium on head and neck cancer that included 1 of the genes that regulates H3.

“We made use of the same data but took a completely different approach,” said principal study author Dr Jacek Majewski. “Instead of concentrating on genetic mutations, we looked at the effect of these mutations on histone H3 proteins. That’s when we discovered that the histone H3 protein was abnormal or incorrectly modified in about 15% of patients with head and neck cancer. The data were there, but this fact had gone unnoticed.”

An essential part of the study was collaboration between scientists and access to the vast genomic databases of patients around the globe, according to the investigators.

“It’s crucial to have access to public data, because it allows us to advance faster and go further in our analyses,” Dr Jabado said. “In our case, this discovery revealed a sub group of patients who might benefit from a therapy that targets the epigenome. This could improve the treatment of more than 1 in 5 patients suffering from devastating oropharyngeal cancer. We are currently collaborating with 2 big groups specializing in head and neck cancer with the goal of finding treatments.”

The investigators are hopeful that the results of the study will open a variety of treatment options in the future.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Artificial larynx implant helps throat cancer patient breathe and speak

Source: www.ctvnews.ca
Author: staff

Sixteen months after receiving an artificial larynx, a 56-year-old French man suffering from throat cancer can now whisper and breathe normally. A report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine considers this to be a significant first achievement.

Thanks to the implant, a 56-year-old throat cancer patient can now whisper and breathe normally. © ChrisChrisW / Istock.com

Thanks to the implant, a 56-year-old throat cancer patient can now whisper and breathe normally. © ChrisChrisW / Istock.com

This is the first time that doctors have observed a patient with the implant long term recover functions such as breathing and speaking after the complete removal of the larynx. Thanks to an artificial voice box, implanted in 2015 at France’s Strasbourg-Hautepierre university hospital, the 56-year-old Frenchman, who lives in Alsace, can now whisper in a comprehensible manner and breathe normally.

The patient has also recovered his sense of smell, which was damaged by the removal of the larynx. Other than the vocal cords, the larynx features an upper valve, called the epiglottis, which closes when food passes down the throat to prevent it from entering the windpipe.

The prosthetic larynx was developed by a French company called Protip Médical. It consists of a rigid titanium and silicone structure replacing the larynx and a removable titanium part that mimics the function of the epiglottis.

The only problem that remains unresolved in the implant is the function of the epiglottis. As a result, the patient coughs from time to time when eating, as food accidentally enters the windpipe. However, the surgeons still consider the functioning implant a highly satisfactory achievement.

The current procedure used to return voice function to throat cancer patients involves puncturing the throat to insert a valve allowing air to pass from the windpipe to the esophagus.

A few doubts remain about the long-term effectiveness of the implant. For example, blockages caused by dried out mucus and secretions from the lungs and nose could be a risk. Another concern is the risk of rejection, particularly in cancer patients who have undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatments.

As for patient comfort, further testing will establish how the mobility of the patient’s neck is affected by the presence of a rigid tube in the throat.

“This implant is constantly evolving and the next patients will benefit from substantial improvements,” notably to improve the passage of food down the throat, said lead researcher Nihal Engin Vrana.

Each year more than 12,000 new cases of throat cancer are diagnosed in the U.S.. Larynx transplants remain extremely rare worldwide and are generally used in cases unrelated to cancer, which represent a small majority.

Source: The report is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Feds, cancer centers aim to boost HPV vaccinations

Source: www.dispatch.com
Author: JoAnne Viviano

Faced with getting her daughter the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against cervical and other cancers, Anaraquel Sanguinetti paused.

The human papillomavirus is spread through sexual contact, and the Westerville mom didn’t want her now-18-year-old daughter to think she was promoting promiscuity. So Sanguinetti did some research. And she had a long talk with her daughter, and another with her doctor.

In the end, daughter Celine got the vaccine last year.

“We are discovering every day new reasons why people obtain cancer, so it’s just another added layer of protection for my daughter for her future, because you just never know,” Sanguetti said. “ I didn’t want to have a regret.”

Sanguetti is in the minority. Though vaccinating against HPV is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless cancer centers and health-care providers, most children in the United States have not been vaccinated against HPV.

Calling that “a serious public health threat,” dozens of cancer centers released a joint statement on Wednesday urging more parents and pediatricians to get onboard.

The statement endorses the CDC’s recent revisions to its HPV vaccine recommendations. Vaccinating, the statement says, could help prevent the nearly 40,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers diagnosed in the United States each year.

“Get the HPV vaccine for your child so they don’t have to hear those words: ‘You have cancer,’ “ said Electra Paskett, co-leader of cancer control at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is among the institutions participating in the effort.

The CDC estimates that as many as 79 million Americans are infected with HPV, which can cause cervical, genital, anal, rectal and throat cancers as well as genital warts. Fourteen million new infections occur each year.

A 2016 CDC report says that only about 42 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys had completed the recommended vaccination series. In Ohio, 35 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys have completed the vaccination course.

In all, 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers are participating in the effort.

The recommendations issued last year say that kids who are 11 or 12 should receive two shots of the HPV vaccine, delivered at least six months apart. The previous recommendation was for three shots, which is still advised for people 15 to 26 years old.

Simplifying the process likely will increase participation and move the nation toward the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s goal of having 80 percent of young people vaccinated by 2020, said Dr. Li Li, associate director for prevention research at Case Western Reserve’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This is one of the few preventable cancers,” he said. “There’s a very unique opportunity for us nationwide to get together to put this forward.”

Li said he’d like to see the state mandate that children receive the vaccine at age 11 or 12 to enroll in school. That’s the rule in three states, he said.

Paskett said recommendations also call for bundling the HPV vaccine with other vaccines given at that age.

“The public has been clamoring for a cancer vaccine for decades, and we now have one and we need to use it,” she said.

Sanguetti said she wanted to make sure her daughter was vaccinated before going off to college. She said she would recommend that other parents do their own research and have their children vaccinated even if it is uncomfortable thinking about their sons or daughters having sex.

“It’s for their future,” she said. “It’s more toward their well-being. It’s not promoting anything other than a preventative for cancer.”

For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/hpv.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Head and neck cancer art exhibition unveils hidden experience

Source: edmontonjournal.com
Author: Madeleine Cummings

Few words are as terrifying as these three: “You have cancer.”

“When you’re told you have cancer, everything seems to fall apart,” said Ken Roth, who was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on the base of his tongue four years ago.

art_cancer

“Your head’s spinning, you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what the results are going to be,” he said.

Brad Necyk, an artist and PhD student in psychiatry at the University of Alberta, tried to capture some of that disorientation in an installation that features a fragmented video of Roth’s face.

His art is part of a new multimedia exhibition called “FLUX: Responding to Head and Neck Cancer,” which explores how head and neck cancer affects patients’ lives. (Ingrid Bachmann, Sean Caulfield, Jude Griebel, Jill Ho-You and Heather Huston also have works in the exhibit.)

Roth had three-quarters of the base of his tongue removed and his illness led him to leave his job, but others have it a lot worse, he said.

Patients with head and neck cancer often undergo lengthy (sometimes multiple) surgeries and they can have trouble speaking, swallowing and hearing. Some patients have to relearn how to speak, and then do it again after an additional surgery.

These symptoms — many of which are visible — change how patients eat, communicate and behave in public. They can be devastating, and according to the Canadian Cancer Society, depression is common among the thousands of Canadians who have these kinds of cancer.

Minn Yoon, a U of A professor who has been interviewing head and neck cancer patients for her research on oral health and the illness experience, said she felt compelled to share their stories beyond academia.

Typically, researchers publish their findings in academic journals or present them to other experts at conferences, but Yoon said she didn’t think that alone would do them justice. “I wanted to find a way of sharing their stories without losing the person behind them,” she said.

She and Pamela Brett-MacLean, a professor who directs the Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine Program at the university, led an interdisciplinary project that brought together artists, patients and researchers.

Patients collaborated with artists during multiple workshops and feedback sessions. According to Roth, these sessions could be very emotional and stressful, but also enlightening for patients, who learned about the progression of others’ cancer treatments and exchanged advice.

Lianne McTavish, a professor who curated the exhibit and attended the workshops, said she was struck by many of the stories she heard about surgeries.

“If you have a surgery that changes your appearance significantly, your entire identity is changed and the way you function in public spaces forever is changed,” she said.

One sculpture, “Obstruction,” by Griebel, combines the catastrophe of facing a cancer diagnosis with the deadly 1903 rock slide that occurred in Frank, Alta. There is hope in the piece, however, McTavish noted. The sculpted figure appears to be sitting on a hospital bed and his body is crumbling, but he sits upright and is made of stone. Tiny trees sprout up and down his arms, suggesting recovery and care.

Necyk, the artist whose video installation portrays patients’ faces in a more intimate way, said he was nervous to show the first versions of his art to the patients with whom he worked.

“It was brutal-looking work, almost violent,” he said. “But the patients felt that this is something that’s not represented in a lot of the narrative representations we have of cancer.”

Rather than portray Roth as a hero or a victim, the art reveals how cancer can change a person, for better and for worse.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Hog jowls and clementines: A bid to awaken cancer patients’ ruined sense of taste

Source: www.statnews.com
Author: Eric Boodman

The medicines were rich and strange, their active ingredients so particular they sounded fictional.

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Credit: Molly Ferguson for Stat

One regimen involved jowl bits from Red Wattle hogs; the pigs were bred from sows named Fart Blossom and Hildegard, and had spent the end of their lives gorging on acorns, hickory nuts, apples, and black walnuts. Another experimental drug included the flesh of the Ubatuba pepper, picked when it was red as a Santa suit, dried at precisely 90 degrees for five days, and then pulverized, seeds and all, into a fragrant, pinkish powder.

These concoctions were meant to be therapeutic — but they hadn’t been devised by pharmacologists or biochemists or even lab techs. Their inventors had no scientific training whatsoever: They were celebrity Montreal chef Frédéric Morin and renowned Atlanta pastry-maker Taria Camerino, who would be facing off in an unusual culinary duel. They’d been challenged to help solve a problem that most clinicians and neuroscientists aren’t able to — the impairment of taste in cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation.

This cook-off in the University of Kentucky’s demo kitchen was the opener for the second annual Neurogastronomy Symposium, which was born over a boozy, late-night chance encounter between neuropsychologist Dan Han and Morin in the chef’s restaurant. Together, they envisioned a conference that would combine neuroscience, agriculture, history, nutrition, medicine, and cooking — to understand the art and science of why we eat what we eat, and how we could change it for the better.

It isn’t your everyday scientific conference. It’s the kind of conference where invited neuroscientists and neurologists experience the flavor wheel of bourbon, sampling Woodford Reserve along with hazelnuts and then orange flesh to see how the liquor migrates into different parts of the palate. The kind of conference where a panel discussion on the science of taste includes a hip New York chef telling a roomful of dietitians that those with binge eating problems should “have sex! It will take your mind away from food.” The kind of conference where attendees suck lollipops designed to evoke the 1812 Overture.

You know, that kind of conference.

But behind the foodie fun is hard science and a real clinical conundrum. Killing cancer cells means killing healthy cells along with them. The poisons of chemo and the waves of radiation are especially good at taking apart the DNA of fast-dividing cells. That can help stop the out-of-control expansion of tumors. But the nerve cells in the nose and mouth replenish themselves quickly, and so they die, too.

The resulting changes in taste and smell might seem like a small price to pay for a lifesaving treatment. Yet one’s desire to get up in the morning can be intimately connected to one’s ability to enjoy food. Lose your ability to taste properly and your mental and physical health — which, for cancer patients, is already fragile — can suffer even more.

“Many people stop eating,” said Gary Beauchamp, a sensory perception researcher at the nonprofit Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “It is a potentially lethal effect.”

The loss of taste and smell is among the most common complaints of cancer patients. But those don’t necessarily bounce back even if you’re lucky enough to transition from patient to survivor.

“The hope is that some of those taste abilities will come back. We’re all different. Some regain it very quickly; others — like myself — might not at all,” said Barry Warner, a 59-year old who was treated for throat cancer seven years ago, and one of the cook-off’s taste-testers. “The bottom line is, if after a period of time, it doesn’t come back, it’s something you’ll have to adapt to. There isn’t going to be anything the same as it was.”

Most doctors hardly ask about this side effect, and when they do, they don’t have much to offer besides apologies and explanations. Their focus is keeping you alive.

“You have no resources to help you deal with the taste aspect,” Morin said in an interview with STAT about a week before he flew to the conference, as he drove to visit a friend with late-stage metastatic cancer. “Who is the next specialist you talk to? It’s the nutritionist: an accountant of nutrition, a bookkeeper of calories. They don’t become nutritionists because they relish the smell and taste of the skin of a roast chicken.”

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Camerino does a lot more than “relish” smells and tastes. By her own account, she lives through her sense of taste.

“I taste everything — like, everything,” she told STAT. “I taste colors, people, emotions, music … I can’t remember songs or movies, but I know what everything tastes like.”

That’s not just because she’s a celebrated pastry chef, who has devoted decades of her life to subtle differences in food. It’s also because she’s synesthetic. The unusual wiring of her brain makes her experience the world through her tongue. Sights and sounds conjure up complex flavors, allowing her to become a kind of mystical Willy Wonka, with top hat and plum velvet jacket swapped out in favor of big round glasses and snaking blue tattoos.

Camerino talks about the flavors she perceives the way some saints talk about God — as an experience accessible only through metaphor. And just as monks might interpret their visions through the lens of scripture, she uses her training in French patisserie, Japanese confectionery, and coastal Italian cooking to pinpoint what exactly it is she’s tasting at that moment — and, in some cases, to reproduce it.

When she was tasked with “profiling” the chef and television personality Andrew Zimmern in a cake, she was startled that the first thing to appear on her palate was prawn shell. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’” she said.

“How do I take a prawn shell and put it into a cake? You toast it. I toasted it low, for a long time, so it never burned and it didn’t become overly sharp, and then I ground it into a powder and I folded it into the cake batter, so all you got was the essence, nothing overwhelming.” The other flavors she had felt — green Szechuan peppercorns, bay leaves, miso, Asian pear — became accompanying syrups and jellies, until she was confident her cake perfectly embodied Zimmern’s spirit.

Sometimes, she’ll get flavors she’s never had before, and only through extensive research can she identify them. A band she was taste-profiling a few years ago conjured up a tang that turned out to be a Southeast Asian fruit called calamansi. A man she met around 2001 evoked a taste that turned out to be mare’s milk, as used in Tibetan and Mongolian cuisine. She is sure of it, even though she’s never tasted horse milk of any kind.

When Han, the neuropsychologist at the University of Kentucky, emailed to invite Camerino to the conference, she thought it was a joke. Like most people, she had never heard the term “neurogastronomy.” After all, it was only coined in 2011, in the title of a Yale neuroscientist’s book. She wasn’t sure that such a conference existed.

But after a back-and-forth by phone and email, she agreed. The arrangement had a fairy-tale ring to it: The woman for whom taste is everything would concoct a special dish that could rekindle patients’ pleasure in food.

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Barry Warner’s first hint of flavor began at least as early as 1957, in the months before he was born. His mother had grown up on a farm southeast of Louisville, where dinner came from the pigpen, the cowshed, and the vegetable patch. That kind of country cooking was what she learned and continued making into her adult years, and during her pregnancy, its fragrant particles filtered down though her digestive system and into her amniotic fluid, shaping what Warner would like once he was born.

He was raised among the rolling corn and tobacco farms of Nelson County, in a small town with a single stoplight. His parents weren’t farmers, but starting at 11 or 12, he helped neighbors to bale hay, loading it into trucks and stacking it in barns for the winter. He loved his mother’s cooking: cornbread sticks made in a cast-iron skillet, cooked cabbage, pork chops soft enough to cut with your fork.

But in 2009, eating became painful. “Every time I tried to extend my mouth wide enough to take a bite out of a sandwich or a hamburger, I had a burning sensation in my tongue,” he said. He went to see a friend, an oral surgeon who’d removed his wisdom teeth years before, and asked him to take a look.

“He thought it was cancer, but he didn’t tell me that and he didn’t tell my wife until he got confirmation,” Warner said. “I didn’t know about it until then.”

Throat cancer was one assault on his body and his ability to eat, but the treatment brought about many more. Five days a week, for seven weeks, he would be immobilized onto a steel table and inserted into a machine for radiation. He also got periodic rounds of chemo.

Those didn’t just dampen his ability to taste; they also left him without saliva and made him taste flavors that weren’t there.

“It really starts out when you’re undergoing chemotherapy, that metal taste you get,” said Warner. “It seems like no matter what you eat, the taste isn’t right.”

He could have been tasting the drugs in his bloodstream — but he could also have been experiencing what some call phantom flavors. Those phantoms, some scientists say, can be the product of a taste system that is no longer in control, like a trained horse gone crazy, bucking off its rider and reverting to a frenzy of kicks and twists.

“Taste has an interesting function beyond what you experience when you eat,” said Linda Bartoshuk, a taste perception expert at the University of Florida. “Nature wants you to eat, so the taste system can be used to turn off sensations that might interfere with your eating. Taste input actually turns down pain. How does taste do that? It does that by sending a lot if inhibitory messages in the brain.”

Take away those inhibitory messages, Bartoshuk said, and those unwanted sensations come roaring in.

Warner no longer tastes those stomach-turning flavors — but he can’t taste anything else either. He might be able to identify mashed potatoes, say, by the texture, and maybe a little by the smell. But beyond that, he wouldn’t be sure what he is eating.

Now, at the lunch before the cook-off, Warner took tiny bites of the squash-and-goat-cheese appetizer that was in front of him. Partially he was saving room for the two different regimens that were on their way to try to rekindle some of those lost gastronomic pleasures for him and a fellow survivor. But that is also just how he’s had to eat since treatment: slowly, mostly without talking, and with little enjoyment, forcing himself to take one small bite after another.

“I don’t really get hungry,” he said. “You might sit down at your meal thinking about how good it tastes. Instead, I’m counting how many bites it will take me to get through it. And you never think about how much eating is part of your social life. That changes dramatically.”

Warner has kept some of his habits anyway. He still drinks bourbon socially — a taste wired into him as a Kentuckian — and he can smell it, and feel the burn of the first sip. And he still drinks a cup of coffee every morning. But he can’t taste either one.

He doesn’t complain about these long-term side effects. “I am so grateful and indebted to the doctors that saved my life, I consider my hearing loss and my loss of taste just … collateral damage,” he said. “Seven years ago, when I was getting my diagnosis, the odds of me having this conversation were less than a flip of a coin.”

Still, part of him wishes that he could experience what he remembers of food and drink. He hopes he’ll wake up one day and be able to taste his coffee.

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Camerino has devoted herself to sweets, studying chocolate-making and practicing the way to twist a pastry bag so a spritz cookie has the perfect swirl. But suffering, loss, illness, pain — those, too, have distinct flavors for her.

She grew up in a poor, abusive household in Gainesville, Fla., with a heroin-addicted father. “Everything tasted like too-salty water, the kind that you gargle when you’re sick and you’re not supposed to drink,” she said.

She remembers a year when they ate little but white rice and packaged brown gravy. She remembers struggling through eating disorders without ever seeing a doctor. She remembers the smell of the Miller High Life her father drank. Yet she also remembers her mother getting a job at the African and Asian languages department at the University of Florida, being invited over and presented with foods she had never imagined. Those visits pushed her into studying linguistics.

It was only a chance encounter with a pastry magazine that made her switch course: “I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to create something that’s bite-sized that can change your perspective on life.’”

The invitation to the Neurogastronomy Symposium seemed like a perfect opportunity. And as with many of her concoctions, she would be guided by both her synesthesia and her culinary education. This time, though, the food would be a kind of medicine. “I’ve wanted to do something meaningful with this superpower,” she said.

She had been told next to nothing about the patients she would be cooking for. Instead, she both did external research — and turned inward. She began conjuring up the flavors evoked by cancer, by chemotherapy, by terrible pain. They were not so different from what she tasted during the long recovery from a motorcycle accident she had this summer: something acidic, a bit like blood, with an astringent metallic edge. She wasn’t surprised that this was the same taste that many cancer patients got when undergoing treatment.

“The first thing I wanted to do was dim that down. If I can gain control of the taste in their mouth, if I can get rid of it, I can give them some relief,” she said. “Blood or metal, the best way to compete with that would be citrus. I’m not using a really strong citrus: Clementines are sweet, they have a little more of a delicate flavor. The clementine will cut through — it will literally cut through — the blood and metallic taste, so now I have a pathway through into their experience.”

Yet she also knew that some patients didn’t have much sense of taste left at all, so she wanted flavors that, to her, produce vibrations felt beyond the mouth: basil and pistachio. “By using the basil, now I’m opening up from the top of the mouth to the top of the forehead, that’s where basil affects you, now I have their whole attention. And pistachio, it has a floral quality, it’s reminiscent of the Mediterranean, of the ocean.”

She wasn’t completely giving up on the mouth, though. She thought of how fat can fall soothingly on the palate, another sensation beyond taste. Butter was too heavy, too overpowering, she said. Instead she went with olive oil.

The medication she came up with would be delicate, fragrant, and not too sweet: a clementine upside-down cake with a dab of basil and pistachio pesto, crowned with a scoop of olive oil gelato.

She wasn’t sure how well it would work. She had never made it before, and had no plans to try it out before she arrived at the event. She knew nothing about these particular patients. Yet as she was preparing for the symposium, she became so excited about the idea of helping patients with taste loss that she even began to dream up a lozenge with the same goal.

“I’ve made people experience emotions by combining particular flavors,” she said. “If I’ve made them experience disappointment, satisfaction, joy, then it may be possible to activate certain parts of the brain and make them experience all of that even without their sense of taste.”

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The day of the challenge began snowy and gray. Two days before, fatty jowl bacon had been fetched from a long-bearded breeder of Red Wattle hogs, and driven 60 miles back to Lexington, for whatever taste-saving concoction Morin, the Montreal chef, had in mind. Now, the University of Kentucky chef-in-residence Bob Perry was picking up last-minute ingredients from the research farm where the Ubatuba peppers grow.

Morin, it turns out, hadn’t really planned his dish out in advance. He’d asked for some vegetables, wine, bacon, spices. He’d figure something out. Camerino, on the other hand, arrived at the university’s demo kitchen with her own ice cream maker and a duffel bag of tools — infrared thermometers, weird tweezers, Q-tips, an offset spatula, an elaborate assortment of spoons. She was going to bring her own olive oil, too, but thought that might be overkill.

Before they headed into the kitchen, the clinicians and scientists and chefs and sommeliers gathered around Warner and another cancer survivor named Erica Radhakrishnan like overeager medical students crowding around a rare and fascinating case. They peppered the two with questions. What was their most memorable meal? Are there textures you find comforting? Did you eat processed foods before? What about the savory taste, which the Japanese call umami?

Then, with whatever intel they could gather, the chefs began to cook. Morin peeled potatoes and fried bacon. Camerino cracked eggs with a single hit on the side of the bowl, a quick squeeze and a pull.

Camerino adjusted her recipe slightly, making room for local ingredients. She incorporated a sprinkle of Ubatuba paprika into a syrup for the cake; she used molasses boiled down from the green juice of sorghum grass instead of cane sugar.

She had been nervous when she arrived, but now she was in her element. She needs no timer to know exactly when something should come out of the oven, perfectly brown. She tasted a spoonful of the basil-pistachio pesto. “This is a trip to Sicily,” she said. “Your marriage is struggling, it’s winter, you’ve lost the ability to communicate … and you go to Sicily with your partner. That’s what this is.”

On the other side of the kitchen, Morin was breaking up the fractal patterns of Romanesco broccoli into tiny bits of chartreuse, as a topping for his potato soup. “If he does not taste anything, I also have a bottle of bourbon,” he muttered in Québécois French.

The kitchen began to fill with the smells of bacon and basil, a hint of curry, and the sweetness of cake. The dishes were ready. At the last second, Camerino spooned a glistening white ball of gelato onto the two desserts.

The chefs each came forward to introduce their dish. Then they pulled back toward the kitchen. And with everyone watching, Warner and Radhakrishnan took careful bites, rolling around first the soup and then the cake in their mouths. The chefs looked on, tense, as Warner primly wiped his moustache.

Both tasters complimented the moisture of the cake and the aromas of the soup, the way the spices enlivened the purée, the way the ice cream made it easier to swallow the cake. They would not reveal the winner until the next day, at the end of the conference, in an auditorium full of academics and clinicians.

But a few minutes later, when the room’s attention had moved elsewhere, Radhakrishnan, whose sense of taste has largely come back after two battles with breast cancer, turned to Warner.

“Barry, are you able to taste anything?” she asked, gesturing toward the cake.

There was a pause. Warner looked serious, like he was concentrating on a math problem. “No,” he said quietly.

It might have worked for Warner while he was undergoing chemo and tasting its metallic tang. Or it might have worked for someone else. Just as Warner’s pleasure in food had been shaped in complex ways — by his genes, by the country cooking he’d sampled in the womb and as a child, and then by those foods he’d grown to appreciate as an adult — his preferences were equally unique after he’d lost his sense of taste. After all, a loss is only a loss in relation to what came before.

To Camerino, the challenge was at once amazing and humbling. “I could have cried a lot — I cry really easily,” she said. The experiment only heightened her zeal: She is now working with a molecular sommelier to dream up four different lozenges for people with taste loss, and, for those without saliva, two aromatic sprays. She isn’t sure about the exact ingredients, but she is thinking citrus, basil, barley malt as a sweetener, and something reminiscent of anise.

Han hopes that these events for chefs and scientists can move from “fun preclinical challenges” to more rigorous research about what can actually help these patients and survivors. Morin is working on an app for cancer patients to share what helps for which kinds of taste loss, and there are other ideas in the works. “We’re doing very early studies to take stem cells to see if we could regrow the system,” said Beauchamp, the researcher from the Monell Center. “But we’re a long way from that.”

For now, Warner keeps to the regimen he’s turned to for seven years. He uses whomever he’s eating with as a timer for when he can stop making himself take bites. He smells coffee in the morning, sipping it as he heads into his sunroom to listen for birds. He feels that first burn of bourbon, and notices how it falls away with each subsequent sip.

December, 2016|Oral Cancer News|