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7 million American men carry cancer-causing HPV virus

Source: www.nytimes.com
Author: Nicholas Bakalar

The incidence of mouth and throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus in men has now surpassed the incidence of HPV-related cervical cancers in women, researchers report.

The study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 11 million men and 3.2 million women in the United States had oral HPV infections. Among them, 7 million men and 1.4 million women had strains that can cause cancers of the throat, tongue and other areas of the head and neck.

The risk of infection was higher for smokers, for people who have had multiple sex partners, and for men who have sex with men. Frequent oral sex also increased the risk. The rate was higher among men who also had genital HPV. (Almost half of men aged 18 to 60 have a genital HPV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Neither age nor income made a difference in high-risk oral infection rates, but rates among non-Hispanic blacks were higher than other races and ethnicities.

HPV vaccination is recommended starting at age 11 or 12 and is effective, said the senior author, Ashish A. Deshmukh, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, and “it’s crucial that parents vaccinate boys as well as girls.”

The lead author, Kalyani Sonawane, also at the University of Florida, said that behavioral change is important, too, particularly smoking cessation. “The difference in oral HPV infection between smokers and nonsmokers is staggering,” she said.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Should women older than 18 get the HPV vaccine?

Source: www.washingtonpost.com
Author: Erin Blakemore

About half of American teenagers have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Should adult women follow suit?

Yes, says Lauri Markowitz, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical epidemiologist who has worked with the advisory committee that makes national vaccination recommendations. “Women 18 to 26 should be vaccinated.”

There’s good reason to follow that recommendation. According to the American Cancer Society, about 12,820 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women this year and more than 4,000 will die of the disease. HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90 percent of all cervical and anal cancers in men and women. The virus also causes vaginal, vulvar and throat cancers and genital warts.

Although the majority of HPV infections do not cause cancer — most people with an infection never show any symptoms, and infections usually go away on their own — some strains are particularly dangerous. Gardasil 9, the newest HPV vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration, protects against nine such strains and, researchers say, may be able to prevent up to 90 percent of cervical cancers. (Older vaccines protect against fewer strains of HPV.)

However, confusion about the way HPV vaccines protect against infection can deter some women. Gardasil 9 is approved for women up to age 26. Like other vaccines, it spurs the body’s immune system to defend itself against a virus. The FDA and CDC say the HPV vaccines are safe and extremely effective: HPV rates in women ages 14 to 19 years fell 64 percent within six years of the vaccine’s introduction in the United States in the mid-2000s and 34 percent in women ages 20 to 24.

The vaccines are most effective if administered before a woman becomes sexually active. The longer a woman has been sexually active and the more partners she has had, the more opportunities she has had to become infected with an HPV strain that overlaps with the vaccine. If she is vaccinated at an older age, the vaccine may be less effective in lowering her cancer risk, Markowitz says. The vaccine can’t clear any HPV that has taken hold; it can only prevent future infection. So essentially if you already have been exposed to one of the strains it protects against, it will be useless against that strain.

That doesn’t mean it’s useless to get vaccinated if you’re older than the recommended age of 11 or 12, Markowitz says. “Your chances of being protected are decreasing, but you will still have some protection,” she says. Although the likelihood that a sexually active woman has been infected with one of the strains the vaccine protects against increases as a woman has more partners, those who didn’t receive the vaccine at the recommended age are still urged to get vaccinated to increase the odds of protection.

Some insurance does not cover the vaccine for those older than 18 — the shots can be costly, though the manufacturer may provide assistance — but it really varies across the board.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Complex cancer decisions, no easy answers

Source: blogs.biomedcentral.com
Author: Jeffrey Liu

With the many different options now available for the treatment of cancer, it can be very difficult for both clinicians and patients to decide on the best possible treatment strategy, particularly when faced with a complicated cancer. In this blog, Dr Jeffrey C. Liu reflects on the challenges encountered in cancer decision making, particularly when presented with difficult cases.

When treating cancer, sometimes the treatment decisions are straightforward and unambiguous. For example, surgery is the treatment of choice for an early, uncomplicated tongue cancer. However, many times, the recommendation for cancer treatment is not straightforward and requires combination treatment – one or more of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

As a head and neck cancer surgeon, I work with a team to make these treatment decisions, and usually team consensus is achieved. However, when we are faced with the choice of multiple treatments that all have the same chance of cure available, it seems to result in a never ending discussion amongst our team.

Take for example an advanced tonsil cancer. These cancers can sometimes be removed first with surgery, a process which removes both the primary cancer and the lymph nodes in the neck. Then, depending on the pathology results, patients may need radiation treatment, chemoradiation or sometimes no further treatment at all. Meanwhile, chemoradiation alone, and no surgery, is an excellent option. Whether the patient receives surgery or no surgery, the chance of cure is pretty much the same. However, based on the need for additional treatment after surgery, the patient may have better, equivalent, or worse function than chemoradiation alone.

How then can a patient make a decision with imperfect data? I wish I could help my patients better with these complex decisions. Most patients will make this decision only once in their lives. With the increased emphasis on patient autonomy, there is sometimes a feeling to just “present the options and let the patient decide.”

However, when a group of smart experienced doctors who all treat the same cancer, cannot reach an agreement, how is a patient with no experience expected to make the right decision? There is not enough time to explain to patients the observations of hundreds of such decisions and their thousands of outcomes. Some patients are so overwhelmed by the decision, that they just want someone to tell them what to do. Others have so many questions and concerns that they get lost in the details and paralyzed by the process. I don’t know the right answer for such patients.

Unfortunately, there is no option but to choose a treatment strategy and move forward. We all carry the hope that one day, with more research and better understanding, such complex decisions for the treatment of cancer, will become the easy ones.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Is alcohol really good for your health? What the research reveals may surprise you

Source: www.consumerreports.org
Author: Julia Calderone

W e’ve long been told that a little wine with dinner may help prevent heart disease and perhaps offer other health benefits.

But some researchers are now questioning whether the perks of moderate drinking—one drink per day for women, two for men—really outweigh potential downsides.

We know that in older adults, too much alcohol can exacerbate high blood pressure, increase the risk of falls and fractures, and lead to strokes, memory loss, and mood disorders. And in this group, alcohol problems, such as the uncontrollable urge to drink, shot up 107 percent between 2001 and 2013, according to a study published in August in JAMA Psychiatry.

Even small amounts of alcohol can interact with medication (see chart here for a list of which ones), and contribute to cancer risk and potentially cognitive decline.

Here’s the latest research and tips on how to ensure that you’re not going overboard:

Benefits and Risks
More than 100 studies have found that a drink or two per day is linked to a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiac-related problems, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Another study published in August, one that followed more than 333,000 people for 12 years, found that light to moderate drinkers were 21 to 34 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

But no studies have yet proved directly that alcohol boosts human health. Most research in this area has looked at whether people’s reported drinking behaviors are “associated” with positive or negative health outcomes.

A growing stack of research also suggests that regular, moderate alcohol consumption may have its hazards.

A 30-year study published in June in the British Medical Journal found that men who consumed eight to 12 drinks per week had three times the odds of having an atrophied hippocampus, which is a possible sign of early Alzheimer’s disease. That’s according to the study’s author, Anya Topiwala, Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in the department of psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

And other research has found that moderate drinking may be linked to an elevated risk of breast cancer and—especially in smokers—esophageal, mouth, and throat cancers.

Watch Your Intake
Although moderate drinking isn’t without risks, a daily glass of wine is generally fine, says George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, even if you’re in your 80s or 90s.

“We don’t want to panic people,” Topiwala adds.

But if you don’t drink, she says, there’s no reason to start for your health’s sake. And if you find yourself exceeding the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, Koob says, there’s no controversy: Consider cutting back.

These strategies can help:
Size up your pour. It can be almost impossible to eyeball a standard drink (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of distilled spirits). Some wineglasses can hold up to 22 ounces, more than the amount in four drinks. So use a measuring cup or a shot glass to get it right.

Keep tabs. Tracking how many drinks you have per day or week—perhaps with tick marks on a cocktail napkin—can help you stay within your limit.

Alternate with water. Sipping a glass of water or club soda after each alcoholic drink will help you slow down.

Talk to your doctor. If you’re concerned about your drinking, don’t be afraid to bring up the issue at your next checkup.

Note: This article also appeared in the November 2017 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Penn surgeons become world’s first to test glowing dye for cancerous lymph nodes

Source: www.phillyvoice.com
Author: Michael Tanenbaum, PhillyVoice Staff

Surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania have achieved a global first with the use of a fluorescent dye that identifies cancerous cells in lymph nodes during head and neck cancer procedures.

The study, led by otorhinolaryngologist Jason G. Newman, seeks to test the effectiveness of intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI), a technique that illuminates tumors to provide real-time surgical guidance.

More than 65,000 Americans will be diagnosed with head and neck cancers in 2017, accounting for approximately 4 percent of all cancers in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 75 percent of these cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use, followed by human papillomavirus (HPV) as a growing source for their development.

Common areas affected by these cancers include the mouth, throat, voice box, sinuses and salivary glands, with typical treatments including a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Lymph nodes, which act as filters for the immune system, are often among the first organs affected by head and neck cancers as they spread or resurface. Initial surgeries may leave microscopic cancerous cells undetected in the lymphoid tissue, heightening the risk that a patient’s condition will return after the procedure.

“By using a dye that makes cancerous cells glow, we get real-time information about which lymph nodes are potentially dangerous and which ones we can leave alone,” Newman said. “That not only helps us remove more cancer from our patients during surgery, it also improves our ability to spare healthy tissue.”

With the aid of a fluorescent dye, surgeons are able to key in on suspicious tissue without removing or damaging otherwise healthy areas. Previously adopted for other disease sites in the lungs and brain, the practice now allows Newman’s team to experiment with indocyanine green (ICG), an FDA-approved contrast agent that responds to blood flow.

Newman explained that since tumor cells retain the dye longer than most other tissues, administering the dye prior to surgery singles out the areas where cancer cells are present.

The current trial at Penn will enable researchers to determine whether ICG is the most suitable dye for head and neck cancers and provide oncologists with a deeper understanding of how cancer spreads in the lymph nodes.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Blood test for HPV may help predict risk in cancer patients

Source: www.newswise.com
Author: University of North Carolina Health Care System

A blood test for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, may help researchers forecast whether patients with throat cancer linked to the sexually transmitted virus will respond to treatment, according to preliminary findings from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

HPV can cause oropharyngeal cancer, which is a cancer of the throat behind the mouth, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. Studies have shown that patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer have better outcomes than patients whose cancer is not linked to the virus.

Preliminary findings presented at this year’s American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting suggest a genetic test for HPV16 in the blood could be useful to help assess risk for patients, and could help identify patients suitable for lower treatment doses.

“Our work on this blood test is ongoing, but we are optimistic that ‘liquid biopsy’ tests such as ours may be useful in the personalization of therapy for many patients with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer,” said the study’s senior author Gaorav P. Gupta, MD, PhD, UNC Lineberger member and assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology.

To avoid over-treating patients and to spare them from toxic treatment side effects, UNC Lineberger’s Bhisham Chera, MD, an associate professor in the radiation oncology department, led studies testing whether favorable-risk patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer can be treated successfully with lower doses of radiation and chemotherapy. A phase II clinical trial using this de-intensified regimen have shown “excellent” cancer control, Chera said.

The researchers used a number of selection criteria to identify patients who can benefit from lower-doses: patients had to be positive for HPV, and they had to have smoked fewer than 10 pack years. Chera said this system is not perfect, however. The researchers have seen cancer recur in non-smoking patients as well as “excellent” cancer control in longtime smokers.

“This has led us to question whether we can get better prognostication with other biomarkers,” Chera said.

They developed a test that can detect HPV16 circulating in the blood, and found that circulating HPV16 DNA was detectable using the test in the majority of a group of 47 favorable-risk oropharyngeal cancer patients.

In a finding that seems counterintuitive, they discovered that very low or undetectable HPV16 pretreatment levels in their blood actually had higher risk of persistent or recurrent disease for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In contrast, patients with high pretreatment levels of HPV16 in their blood had 100 percent disease control.

They hypothesized that, potentially, the patients with undetectable/low pre-treatment HPV16 levels in the blood may have different, more radiation/chemotherapy resistant cancers.

“Our current theory is that these patients with low or undetectable levels of HPV16 have a different genetic makeup—one that is perhaps less driven purely by HPV, and thus potentially less sensitive to chemotherapy and radiation,” Gupta said. “We are performing next generation sequencing on these patients to search for additional genetic markers that may give us a clue regarding why they have a worse prognosis.”

They also identified a subset of patients who rapidly cleared the HPV16 from their blood. Researchers hypothesize that they could use their findings to further stratify patients who may be eligible for lower intensity treatment.

“A tantalizing – and yet currently untested – hypothesis is whether this subset of ultra-low risk patients may be treated with even lower doses of chemoradiotherapy,” Gupta said.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Can even moderate drinking increase the risk of cancer?

Source: www.theguardian.com
Author: Luisa Dillner

Alcohol may be a social lubricant but WHO and Public Health England say it can cause cancer. Last week the alcohol industry was accused of downplaying the link between alcohol and the increased risk of seven cancers: mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, breast and colon. A research paper in Drug and Alcohol Review found that “responsible drinking” information funded by the alcohol industry tends to push the message that only heavy drinking increases the risk of these cancers. But the paper says the risk starts with low levels of drinking, even though the risk itself is low. So is the recommended number of alcohol units a week – 14 – too high?

The solution
Even less than 1.5 units a day – a small glass of wine – can increase the risk of mouth, throat, oesophagus and breast cancer (in women), according to a UK government committee. While the toll of heavy drinking on the liver and pancreas is well known, the link to cancers, especially breast and colorectal, is less so. There are more than 100 epidemiology studies showing an association between breast cancer and alcohol, the risk increasing with less than one daily glass of wine. Research at Harvard found that while light to moderate drinking was not significantly associated with an increased risk for men (unless they smoked), it did increase the risk of breast cancer for women.

Edward L Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the lead author of the report, says that the increase in risk is modest. And there are some health benefits from occasional drinking that make the true risk to health harder to quantify. He points out other research that shows that one drink per day reduces the risk of diabetes for women. “So the overall effect on health for women might still be positive,” he says. “For colorectal cancer, the risk for men and women is low until you reach more than two drinks per day.”

There are also individual genetic differences in metabolising alcohol that can increase the risk of cancer. Ethanol in alcoholic drinks is broken down into acetaldehyde, which is toxic to cells, damaging DNA and proteins. Some people have genetic variations that are less effective at getting rid of acetaldehyde, and they may have a higher risk of oesophageal cancer.

Giovannucci says that overall he wouldn’t recommend drinking alcohol to improve your health. “But if one enjoys a glass or occasionally two a day as part of a healthy diet, and doesn’t smoke, I think the increased risk of cancer is small,” he says. “For those with a family history of colorectal or breast cancer, I’d suggest not drinking or not exceeding one glass per day.”

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

HPV and cancer: Key mechanism may suggest treatment

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com
Author: Maria Cohut

New research from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., investigates how the human papillomavirus promotes cancer. The findings might point to a potential new and improved strategy for targeted treatment.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) refers to a group of viruses transmitted through sexual contact. Some types of HPV cause various kinds of cancer, including mouth, anus, and cervical cancer.

According to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1 in 4 people in the United States are infected with HPV.

Although treatments for HPV-related conditions do exist, they either target non-cancerous outcomes (such as genital warts) or they focus on the prevention of cancer through screening of abnormal cell activity.

Treatments for cancers caused by HPV include surgical interventions and chemotherapy, but at present, none of the options specifically address the viral source.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have now identified the mechanism that promotes the survival of cancerous cells due to HPV. The study, which was led by Dr. Xuefeng Liu, describes a molecular apparatus that renders cancer cells “immortal.” Understanding how this apparatus works may lead to better targeted treatments in the future, the researcher suggests.

“There is no targeted treatment now for these cancers since German virologist Harald zur Hausen, Ph.D., discovered in 1983 that HPV can cause cervical cancer,” says Dr. Liu.

“Recently,” he adds, “the numbers of HPV-linked head and neck cancers have increased in the U.S. Now we have a chance to develop and test a very specific, potentially less toxic way to stop these cancers.”

The researchers’ findings are published in the journal Oncotarget.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

British Columbia to begin providing free HPV vaccines for Grade 6 boys

Source: bc.ctvnews.ca
Author: Darcy Matheson, Senior Digital Producer, CTV Vancouver

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.

Vaccines exist to prevent HPV, which is a common sexually transmitted infection.

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|

Halving radiation therapy for HPV-related throat cancer offers fewer side effects, similar outcomes

Source: www.eurekalert.org
Author: Mayo Clinic press release

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that a 50 percent reduction in the intensity and dose of radiation therapy for patients with HPV-related throat cancer reduced side effects with no loss in survival and no decrease in cure rates. Results of a phase II study were presented today at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology in San Diego by Daniel Ma, M.D. a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

“A common approach for treating HPV-related throat cancer is a combination of surgery followed by daily radiation therapy for six to 6½ weeks,” says Dr. Ma. “However, the radiation treatment can cause a high degree of side effects, including altered taste, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, stiff neck and damage to the jaw bone.” Dr. Ma says that patients with HPV-related throat cancer tend to be young and, once treated, are likely to live a long time with possibly life-altering side effects from the standard treatment. “The goal of our trial was to see if an aggressive reduction of radiation therapy (two weeks of radiation twice daily) could maintain excellent cure rates, while significantly reducing posttreatment side effects, improving quality of life and lowering treatment costs.”

Researchers followed 80 patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer with no evidence of residual disease following surgery and a smoking history of 10 or fewer pack years. That’s the number of years smoking multiplied by the average packs of cigarettes smoked per day.

At two years following the aggressively de-escalated treatment, the rate of tumor control in the oropharynx (throat) and surrounding region was 95 percent. Of the 80 patients in the trial, only three experienced a local cancer recurrence. One patient experienced a regional cancer recurrence. Patient quality of life largely improved or did not change following treatment, except for some dry mouth.

“Patients in our trial had a very dramatic reduction in side effects, compared with standard treatment,” says Dr. Ma. “For example, no patient in our trial needed a feeding tube placed during dose-reduced treatment; whereas, close to a third of patients had feeding tubes placed with traditional radiation therapy doses on other recent clinical trials.” Dr. Ma says the reduction in side effects did not lead to any reduction in cure rate, as survival rates were similar to traditional survival rates for HPV-related throat cancer.

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|