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An artistic representation of cancer

Source: www.vueweekly.com
Author: Stephan Boissonneault

Obstructed by Jude Griebel // Stephan Boissonneault

One of the most terrifying phrases known to our current human existence is “you have cancer.” Those three words can break a person.

“I would describe it as a terrible cyclone of information,” says head and neck cancer patient Kimberly Flowers. “You’re surrounded by all these medical teams, all these procedures and appointments, and you’re expected as [a] patient to make the best informed decisions while you’re in a state of emotional trauma. It’s just a whirlwind of confusion.”

With their project and exhibition See Me, Hear Me, Heal Me, clinicians, researchers, patients, and artists aim to recreate that initial confusion and the universal experience of head and neck cancer with multiple works of art.

“I thought art was the best way to express this because art presents an effective and visceral understanding to the experience,” head researcher of the project Dr. Minn Yoon says.

Yoon, being an assistant professor with the School of Dentistry at the University of Alberta, initially started the project by interviewing patients with head and neck cancer.

“My research has to do with the oral health of vulnerable populations, and patients with head and neck cancer fall into that category,” Yoon says. “I wanted to get a sense of what these people actually go through and how their lives change after learning they have head and neck cancer.”

After an interview with a patient who had undergone surgery to reconstruct her tongue, Yoon became aware that the project did not have to be confined to the realm of academia.

“Words alone were not sufficient,” Yoon says.

After meeting local artist Sean Caulfield, Yoon realized she had found the perfect medium to convey a new and authentic take on head and neck cancer—art.

Having done past work with biomedical art projects, Caulfield jumped on board. The project touched him not only on an artistic level, but also a very personal one.

“My mother had head and neck cancer so I had that personal experience,” Caulfield says.

His piece, “Veil,” is made up of nine wooden panels, each with its own unique image like a bouquet of flowers, lamps, and a suburban house. The images are clouded with sheets of printed disruption, blown up images of cancer cells that look as if they’re slowly consuming the entire piece.

“I started thinking about the memories of my mother and the classic hospital layout,” Caulfield says. “I thought about the ways this diagnoses creates a veil over the way you see your life.”

Similarly, Jill Ho-You’s piece, “Veils”, features hand cut mylar sheets of cancer MRI scans.

“I wanted to use a material that had the same ghostly presence as the MRI scans did,” Ho-You says. “I wanted to express the fragility of the human body. People don’t really ever think about their bodies when everything is fine, but when you get sick it becomes this weird alien experience.”

Like all of the artists featured in the exhibit, Caulfield and Ho-You’s goals were to create relatable imprints for head and neck cancer patients.

“It perfectly conveys what I experienced when I was told I had tongue cancer,” Flowers says. “Everything just seemed black to me and everything was so closed to me. I was existing at work and at home, but I was so numb to everything around me. You’re constantly grasping for the past.”

All of the pieces created in See Me, Hear Me, Heal Me were created after patients, artists, clinicians, and researchers all worked together to find the ubiquitous and invisible aspects of head and neck cancer.

“We had a workshop where we used something called imagery theatre where everyone involved, including the artists, got together and talked about head and neck cancer,” Yoon says.

“What really surprised me was that these artists were able to create something from someone else’s experience and brought a new accurate perspective,” Flowers adds.

Each piece in the exhibit stands out with its own literal spotlight.

There’s Jude Griebel’s “Obstructed” sculpture which features a patient on a hospital bed depicted as a grotesque anthropomorphic mountain that has just had a landslide. The piece chimes in on a person’s loss of identity when being diagnosed with head and neck cancer.

Another piece portraying that loss of identity is Brad Necyk’s “Waiting Room” which shows Flowers’ face digitally blurred out on a lit up background.

“My arm was used to repair my tongue and my leg skin was used to cover my arm,” Flowers says. “You come out quite fractured and your sense of self really changes.”

The exhibit does a superb job of expressing the hidden qualities of head and neck cancer.

“My experience has been very eye-opening, and through the exhibit I’ve had some enlightened moments with my own recovery with head and neck cancer,” Flowers says.

Yoon and the artists hope to soon unveil the exhibit internationally and use it as a means to promote the understanding of head and neck cancer.

“What has happened behind the scenes with these patients has been really moving to me as a researcher, but also as a human,” Yoon says. “I guess that shows the importance of fostering the humanistic qualities of academia, health, and art.”

Biotech exec facing death urges: Get the vaccine that prevents his cancer

Source: www.philly.com
Author: Michael D. Becker

Like most people who pen a new book, Michael D. Becker is eager for publicity.

But he has an unusual sense of urgency.

A former oncology biotech CEO, Becker has neck cancer. He expects his 49th birthday in November to be his last, if he makes it.

What also drives him to get his message out, however, is this: Children today can get a vaccine that prevents the kind of oropharyngeal cancer that is killing him.

As he collides with his mortality, Becker wants to share his story and raise awareness about the vaccine, which protects against dangerous strains of human papillomavirus, or HPV, the extremely common, sexually transmitted virus that caused his disease. His book, A Walk With Purpose: Memoir of a Bioentrepreneur (available on Amazon.com), was produced and self-published in a creative sprint between December, when his cancer recurred just a year after initial diagnosis and treatment, and April. He also has a blog, My Cancer Journey, and has been conducting media interviews.

“I had a lot of motivation to write the book quickly,” he said wryly at his home in Yardley.

In the final pages, he urges parents “to talk to their doctor about the HPV vaccine,” which “simply didn’t exist when I was a teenager, or it could have prevented my cancer.”

The leading vaccine brand, Gardasil, was hailed as a breakthrough when it was introduced in 2006. It is approved to prevent cervical cancer and less common genital malignancies, including anal cancer, that are driven by HPV infections. The vaccine was not clinically tested to prevent head and neck cancers, so it is not officially approved for that purpose, but research shows that it works. A study of young men presented last month found that vaccination reduced oral HPV infections by 88 percent.

Still, many adolescents are not getting the shots, for various reasons.

“It just kills me,” Becker says without a trace of irony, “that it’s underutilized. There are parents debating about whether to vaccinate their children. I’ve talked to immunologists about the safety. I had to make the decision to vaccinate my own kids. I was 100 percent convinced.”

From dropout to go-getter:
Becker describes his own youth as a bit misspent. He left home and dropped out of high school in his junior year, soon after his parents divorced.

“During my teens, I had experimented with sex, drugs, and alcohol while teaching myself how to play guitar and dreaming of becoming the next Eddie van Halen,” he writes in his book. “Making it through a number of near-death and reckless experiences during that period now seemed like a minor miracle.”

In his late teens, he wised up, got his equivalency diploma, and went to work for his father’s investment firm, where he discovered a talent for computer programming. Next came a job as a stock broker in Chicago, where he met and soon married Lorie Statland, an elementary school teacher who inspired him to get a college degree. The couple had two children, Rosie, now 19, and Megan, 16.

Becker went on to have a prolific career in biotechnology, complete with the occasional setbacks (lawsuits and soured partnerships) that are part of that high-stakes world. His resume includes Wall Street securities analyst, portfolio manager, founder of his own communications firm, and top executive of three biotech companies, two of which developed oncology products. During his cancer treatment, he used a prescription medicine that he played a major role in developing while at New Jersey-based Cytogen Corp: Caphosol, an electrolyte mouthwash that treats mouth ulcers caused by radiation therapy.

His diagnosis followed his discovery of a lump under his jaw line on the day before Thanksgiving in 2015. Tests revealed cancer that had spread from a tonsil to a lymph node and surrounding tissue.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he opted for chemotherapy and radiation instead of surgery. The operation, he explains, can damage speech and swallowing, and if it doesn’t get all the cancer, chemo and radiation are still necessary.

He describes the main side effects of treatment – constant dry mouth and changes in taste – as manageable. And he says he was not unhappy to lose 30 pounds.

Although he sounds almost too stoic, he is frank about “the one major issue I tried to ignore … namely, depression.”

“On more than one occasion I burst into a crying session,” he writes. “I’m not talking about the quiet episode with sniffles and a tear or two. I mean full-fledged bawling your eyes out accompanied by nasal discharge and the near inability to speak normally.”

A sensitive subject:
Conspicuously missing from his book, though, is information about head and neck cancer. Over the last 30 years, the epidemiology has changed dramatically in the United States, with a decline in cases related to smoking and alcohol use, and a steady increase in HPV-related cancers. Men are three times more likely than women to develop these malignancies. Of an estimated 63,000 new head and neck cancer diagnoses this year, 11,600 will likely be caused by HPV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This surge reflects changes in sexual practices, especially oral sex, research suggests. That’s a sensitive issue, as actor Michael Douglas discovered when his candor about his throat cancer and cunnilingus turned him into fodder for tweeters and late-night comics. The thing is, genital strains of HPV are so ubiquitous that almost all sexually active people — not just promiscuous ones — will be infected at some point. It is not clear why, for a fraction of these people, the immune system fails to wipe out the infection.

Becker says he did not wade into this subject in his book because of the scientific uncertainties.

In a recent blog post, he quoted the CDC: “Only a few studies have looked at how people get oral HPV, and some show conflicting results. Some studies suggest that oral HPV may be passed on during oral sex or simply open-mouthed (“French”) kissing, others have not. More research is needed to understand exactly how people get and give oral HPV infections.”

After his cancer recurred, Becker explored his options and entered a National Cancer Institute clinical trial of an experimental immunotherapy. It seems to have slowed, but not stopped, his cancer, which has spread to his lungs.

He is philosophical about his plight.

“I get up each morning feeling fine. It’s not a bad quality of life at the moment,” he said. “And I’ve had just a fabulous life. I’ve worked very hard, but the fruits of those labors were phenomenal. Being able to travel. Being able to give my daughters what they wanted. I wanted them to have a better youth than I had. I’ve got the best wife in the world. I’ve had 25 fabulous years with her. It’s hard to look at my situation and have a lot of self-pity.”

But he does have a hope: “That by sharing this experience freely, I can help create greater awareness for the disease and its impact.”

Thirty-second oral cancer test could save your life

Source: savannahnow.com
Author: Angela C. Canfield, DDS

Every 60 minutes, a person dies from oral cancer. The disease is typically associated with long-term tobacco use, but it is becoming more frequent in young adults who have never smoked.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 40 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancers will die within five years.

Besides tobacco use, the risk factors that could lead to oral cancer include DNA abnormalities or family history. But the main cause of oral cancers, especially in young adults who don’t smoke, is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which may be spread by sexually active people through intimate or even close contact.

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, which used to be the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States. Now that more women routinely get PAP tests that provide early detection of conditions that could lead to cervical cancer, those cancer rates are on the decline. In fact, these days, a person is three times more likely to die from oral cancer than cervical cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 40 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancers will die within five years. While the disease has few, if any, early symptoms, early detection can make a dramatic difference, increasing survival rates to as much as 90 percent. Now, a routine test that takes only 30 seconds is available to provide that early detection and even offer prevention from the disease itself.

The test is basically a minty mouthwash or saline solution administered by a dentist or other oral health care provider. You swish and gargle and spit it back into the test cup. It’s that simple.

Oral cancer signs

While easily administered, this genetic test has a complex function, looking for oral cancer risk on a molecular level in three ways:

• Cell abnormalities. Changes to your cells could mean a precancerous condition or infection exists.

• HPV. This virus can lead to some cases of oral cancer, or clear up on its own. In either case, I monitor and test my patients more frequently, especially if an infection tends to linger.

• DNA damage. People with certain DNA damage seem to be at a higher risk for oral cancer. These abnormalities don’t mean you have oral cancer or that you are destined to get it, but more frequent monitoring is usually necessary, just to be safe.

While not always present, possible signs of oral cancer could include a mouth sore that bleeds easily and does not heal within two weeks, a lump or thickening in the oral soft tissues, soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat, difficulty chewing or swallowing, ear pain, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, hoarseness, or numbness of the tongue. Some signs of oral cancer might also easily be mistaken for a toothache or a cold.

I recommend to my patients aged 18 and older that they be tested annually for oral cancer. Results can vary from negative to being high risk or positive. For patients who test positive for precancerous cells, I usually suggest a follow-up visit with an ear, nose and throat specialist, depending on the levels found. I will continue to monitor high-risk patients and administer follow-up tests as needed.

Please talk with your oral health care provider about your risk factors and the advantages of oral cancer screening.

Angela Canfield, DDS, is licensed by the Georgia Board of Dentistry and the National Board of Dentists.

Mayo Clinic Q and A: Throat cancer symptoms

Source: newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org
Author: Dr. Eric Moore, Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Are there early signs of throat cancer, or is it typically not found until its late stages? How is it treated?

ANSWER: The throat includes several important structures that are relied on every minute of the day and night to breathe, swallow and speak. Unfortunately, cancer can involve any, and sometimes all, of these structures. The symptoms of cancer, how early these symptoms are recognized and how the cancer is treated depend on which structures are involved.

All of the passageway between your tongue and your esophagus can be considered the throat. It includes three main areas. The first is the base of your tongue and tonsils. These, along with the soft palate and upper side walls of the pharynx, are called the oropharynx. Second is the voice box, or larynx. It consists of the epiglottis — a cartilage flap that helps to close your windpipe, or trachea, when you swallow — and the vocal cords. Third is the hypopharynx. That includes the bottom sidewalls and the back of the throat before the opening of the esophagus.

Tumors that occur in these three areas have different symptoms, behave differently and often are treated differently. That’s why the areas of the throat are subdivided into separate sections by the head and neck surgeons who diagnose and treat them.

For example, in the oropharynx, most tumors are squamous cell carcinoma. Most are caused by HPV, although smoking and alcohol can play a role in causing some of these tumors. Cancer that occurs in this area, particularly when caused by HPV, grows slowly ─ usually over a number of months. It often does not cause pain, interfere with swallowing or speaking, or have many other symptoms.

Most people discover cancer in the oropharynx when they notice a mass in their neck that’s a result of the cancer spreading to a lymph node. Eighty percent of people with cancer that affects the tonsils and base of tongue are not diagnosed until the cancer moves into the lymph nodes.

This type of cancer responds well to therapy, however, and is highly treatable even in an advanced stage. At Mayo Clinic, most tonsil and base of tongue cancers are treated by removing the cancer and affected lymph nodes with robotic surgery, followed by radiation therapy. This treatment attains excellent outcomes without sacrificing a person’s ability to swallow.

When cancer affects the voice box, it often affects speech. People usually notice hoarseness in their voice soon after the cancer starts. Because of that, many cases of this cancer are detected at an early stage. People with hoarseness that lasts for six weeks should get an exam by an otolaryngologist who specializes in head and neck cancer treatment, as early treatment of voice box cancer is much more effective than treatment in the later stages.

Early voice box cancer is treated with surgery — often laser surgery — or radiation therapy. Both are highly effective. If left untreated, voice box cancer can grow and destroy more of the larynx. At that point, treatment usually includes major surgery, along with radiation and chemotherapy ─ often at great cost to speech and swallowing function.

Finally, cancer of the hypopharynx usually involves symptoms such as pain when swallowing and difficulty swallowing solid food. It is most common in people with a long history of tobacco smoking and daily alcohol consumption. This cancer almost always presents in an advanced stage. Treatment is usually a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

If you are concerned about the possibility of any of these cancers, or if you notice symptoms that affect your speech or swallowing, make an appointment for an evaluation. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances for successful treatment. — Dr. Eric Moore, Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Why drinking wine causes very dry mouth, and how eating cheese helps prevent it

Source: www.medicaldaily.com
Author: Lizette Borreli

The real reason why wine and cheese are often paired together has to do with creating a more balanced mouth feel to prevent dry mouth.

Photo courtesy of Pexels, Public Domain

At a happy hour, a dinner event, or a winery, we’re likely to see wine and cheese together on the menu. This classic food pairing makes it less likely for us to get dry mouth when we drink wine, and science has found out why. The food combination pair of astringent wine with fatty cheese, opposing foods of sensory perception, help create a more balanced mouth feel.

In the video, “Why Does Wine Make Your Mouth Feel Dry?” MinuteEarth explains the temporarily leather-like feel in our mouth is linked to the tannins in wine. The over consumption of tannins, like having a few glasses of wine, causes the slippery proteins in our saliva, tongues and cheeks to stick together, which produces a rough feeling on the tongue. Luckily, the bonds between the tannins and proteins are temporary, meaning once the mouth creates new saliva, it will dilute the tannins and carry them away.

Instead of waiting for new saliva to develop, there are proteins in fatty foods that will bond with the tannins, rather than our mouth. In a 2012 study, published in the journal Cell, researchers suggest drinking wine and eating cheese together work as the mild astringent cuts fat. Astringents tend to have a strong effect each time the mouth is exposed to them, implying they react more strongly with the lubricating proteins in the mouth upon each exposure.

A separate study published in the Journal of Food Science found when four different types of cheeses were paired with four different wines, the cheese influenced the dominant taste of each wine. For example, when participants paired a dry white Sancerre with Epoisses cheese, they were more likely to detect citrus notes. Meanwhile, when a spicy red Bourgogne was paired with Roquefort, the astringency decreased because the the fat in the cheese coated the mouth, therefore, reducing the tannin-induced drying.

These findings simply suggest why wine and cheese pairings have come to exist. An excess of tannins leads to dry mouth, but pairing astringent foods with fatty foods, like cheese, can help offset this feeling. Our mouth will feel smooth and leather-free.

Moreover, this sensory method can help us better understand why our perception of food changes when it is paired with something else. Perhaps this is why sandwiches are paired with pickles; why green tea goes with sushi; and why oil goes with vinegar. These famous food pairings could be a direct result of cultures finding the most balanced pairings based on what the foods are made of.

Until then, we will gladly pair our wine and cheese together, in the name of food science.

Novel vaccine therapy can generate immune responses in patients with HPV-related head and neck cancer

Source: www.news-medical.net
Author: staff

A novel vaccine therapy can generate immune responses in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCCa), according to researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The treatment specifically targets human papillomavirus (HPV), which is frequently associated with HNSCCa, to trigger the immune response. Researchers will present the results of their pilot study during the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago (Abstract #6073).

HNSCCa is a cancer that develops in the mucous membranes of the mouth, and throat. While smoking and tobacco use are known causes, the number of cases related to HPV infection – a sexually transmitted infection that is so common, the Centers for Disease Control says almost all sexually active adults will contract it at some point in their lifetimes – is on the rise. The CDC now estimates 70 percent of all throat cancers in the United States are HPV-related. Sixty percent are caused by the subtype known as HPV 16/18.

“This is the subtype we target with this new therapy, and we’re the only site in the country to demonstrate immune activation with this DNA based immunotherapeutic vaccine for HPV 16/18 associated head and neck cancer,” said the study’s lead author Charu Aggarwal, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of Hematology Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The vaccine is delivered as an injection of antigens – which leads the immune system to start producing antibodies and activate immune cells. At the time of injection, physicians use a special device to deliver a pulse of electricity to the area, which stimulates the muscles and speeds the intake of the antigens. Aggarwal noted that this study represents a multidisciplinary approach involving the lab and the clinic.

“This is truly bench-to-bedside and shows the value of translational medicine within an academic medical center,” Aggarwal said.

Penn researchers treated 22 patients with the vaccine. All of the patients had already received therapy that was intended to be curative – either surgery or chemotherapy and radiation. When doctors followed up an average of 16 months later, 18 of those patients showed elevated T cell activity that was specific to HPV 16/18. All of the patients in the study are still alive, and none reported any serious side effects.

“The data show the therapy is targeted and specific, but also safe and well-tolerated,” Aggarwal said.

Because of the positive activity, Aggarwal says the next step is to try this therapy in patients with metastatic disease. A multi-site trial will open soon that combines the vaccine with PD-L1 inhibitors, which target a protein that weakens the body’s immune response by suppressing T-cell production.

More patients presenting with HPV-associated oral cancers in Lubbock, TX

Source: lubbockonline.com
Author: Ellysa Harris

Detecting oral cancers in patients in their 50s and 60s has never been uncommon. But local dentists and doctors say finding it in younger patient populations has become a new norm.

Oral cancers driven by Human Papillomavirus are now the fastest growing oral and oropharyngeal cancers, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation website. And local health officials say they’ve seen a few more cases than usual.

Dr. Joehassin Cordero, FACS, professor, chairman and program director ofTexas Tech’s Health Sciences Center Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, said less people are smoking and that has contributed to the decrease in the number of cases of oral cancers in the past two decades.

“In that same period, we have seen an increase in the HPV oropharyngeal cancer,” he said. “And oropharyngeal cancer — what it means it’s affecting the base of your tongue and tonsils.”

Dr. Brian Herring, a Lubbock dentist, chalks the increase up to increased awareness.

“I’m assuming probably for years and years and years it has affected the mouth but we didn’t know that,” he said. “As we get better at cellular diagnostics and molecular diagnostics, things like that, we’re finding that there is a large portion of cancers that do have an HPV component.”

What’s more alarming, said Dr. Ryan Higley, oral surgeon with West Texas Oral Facial Surgery, is it’s being diagnosed in younger people.

Higley said oral cancers are generally diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 65, mostly in women.

“With HPV-associated cancers, we see those four to 10 years before that,” he said. “It’s a younger patient population.”

Cordero said the oral cancers are often caused by exposure to HPV from years before.It starts with exposure to the HPV infection. One in four people in the United States are currently infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“It’s truly considered a sexually transmitted disease,” Cordero said. “It has to do with not so much kissing, but oral sex.”

It’s passed on when somebody with an active lesion engages in sexual activities with another person, he said.

Nine out of 10 infections will disappear on their own, according to the CDC, but infections that linger for longer than about two years can lead to cancer.

“That doesn’t mean they’ll have cancer next week,” Cordero said.

Researchers are still trying to figure out why and how long after HPV exposure it takes for cancer to develop, he said.

“We don’t know the true mechanism because most of these people were not exposed a year ago,” he said. “They were not exposed six months ago. They were exposed a long time before that.”

When it does present, he said, there generally aren’t any noticeable symptoms.Because of that, it’s often diagnosed in later stages, Herring said.

“What we’re finding is because the demographic is changing, they’re not getting diagnosed as early because they’re not expecting to have this problem,” he said.

Screenings for oral HPV exist.

“The gold standard examination is your typical dental exam,” Herring said. If your dentist detects something unusual that might need further examination, he or she will make a referral to an oral surgeon.

Higley said oral HPV cancer presents as a lesion that looks like a kanker that won’t heal.

“However, cancerous lesions can have multiple presentations so that’s not exclusive,” he said. “So oftentimes, we’ll have a patient present with a hard nodule underneath their jaw line or in their neck. Sometimes they’ll just have red or white lesions within the mouth, hoarseness in their voice or difficulty swallowing. All those are things that need to be checked.”

The cancer seems to be more treatable, he said, but it’s hard to pinpoint why.

“We really don’t know if they’re more responsive to treatment because we’re treating a little bit younger patient population who is overall more healthy or if it’s inherant in the tumor itself,” Higley said.

Cordero said he hopes the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for both girls and boys 11 or 12 years old and people up to 26 years old, provides a measure of protection against the infection.

“We’re hoping in the next 10 to 20 years that head and neck cancer caused by HPV will be completely gone,” he said.

Symptoms of throat cancer depend on which throat structures are affected

Source: tribunecontentagency.com
Author: Eric Moore, M.D.

Dear Mayo Clinic: Are there early signs of throat cancer, or is it typically not found until its late stages? How is it treated?

Answer: The throat includes several important structures that are relied on every minute of the day and night to breathe, swallow and speak. Unfortunately, cancer can involve any, and sometimes all, of these structures. The symptoms of cancer, how early these symptoms are recognized and how the cancer is treated depend on which structures are involved.

All of the passageway between your tongue and your esophagus can be considered the throat. It includes three main areas. The first is the base of your tongue and tonsils. These, along with the soft palate and upper side walls of the pharynx, are called the oropharynx. Second is the voice box, or larynx. It consists of the epiglottis — a cartilage flap that helps to close your windpipe, or trachea, when you swallow — and the vocal cords. Third is the hypopharynx. That includes the bottom sidewalls and the back of the throat before the opening of the esophagus.

Tumors that occur in these three areas have different symptoms, behave differently and often are treated differently. That’s why the areas of the throat are subdivided into separate sections by the head and neck surgeons who diagnose and treat them.

For example, in the oropharynx, most tumors are squamous cell carcinoma. Most are caused by HPV, although smoking and alcohol can play a role in causing some of these tumors. Cancer that occurs in this area, particularly when caused by HPV, grows slowly usually over a number of months. It often does not cause pain, interfere with swallowing or speaking, or have many other symptoms.

Most people discover cancer in the oropharynx when they notice a mass in their neck that’s a result of the cancer spreading to a lymph node. Eighty percent of people with cancer that affects the tonsils and base of tongue are not diagnosed until the cancer moves into the lymph nodes.

This type of cancer responds well to therapy, however, and is highly treatable even in an advanced stage. At Mayo Clinic, most tonsil and base of tongue cancers are treated by removing the cancer and affected lymph nodes with robotic surgery, followed by radiation therapy. This treatment attains excellent outcomes without sacrificing a person’s ability to swallow.

When cancer affects the voice box, it often affects speech. People usually notice hoarseness in their voice soon after the cancer starts. Because of that, many cases of this cancer are detected at an early stage. People with hoarseness that lasts for six weeks should get an exam by an otolaryngologist who specializes in head and neck cancer treatment, as early treatment of voice box cancer is much more effective than treatment in the later stages.

Early voice box cancer is treated with surgery — often laser surgery — or radiation therapy. Both are highly effective. If left untreated, voice box cancer can grow and destroy more of the larynx. At that point, treatment usually includes major surgery, along with radiation and chemotherapy — often at great cost to speech and swallowing function.

Finally, cancer of the hypopharynx usually involves symptoms such as pain when swallowing and difficulty swallowing solid food. It is most common in people with a long history of tobacco smoking and daily alcohol consumption. This cancer almost always presents in an advanced stage. Treatment is usually a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

If you are concerned about the possibility of any of these cancers, or if you notice symptoms that affect your speech or swallowing, make an appointment for an evaluation. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances for successful treatment. — Eric Moore, M.D., Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Note: For information, visit www.mayoclinic.org

Jay Fund will forever remain dear to heart of ESPN’s Mortensen

Source: staugustine.com
Author: Gene Frenette

Chris Mortensen remembers the moment last May when his own cancer journey reminded him why he had been coming to Tom Coughlin’s Jay Fund benefit dinner/golf tournament for the previous 15 years.

As Mortensen waited in line to receive his proton radiation treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the NFL information insider for ESPN saw a man ahead of him dressed in jeans and work boots strapped to a gurney, holding his 3-year-old son.

“He’s going into the very scary radiation proton room,” said Mortensen. “You have to be in there to understand how intimidating a place it can be, even more so for a child. That’s when I thought of the Jay Fund.

“There’s a dad, who clearly took off from work, with his son who looks sick and scared. It made me think, ‘That’s what the Jay Fund is about, helping families tend to the needs of their children who are suffering from this.’ That was the moment it connected with me.”

Mortensen, diagnosed 17 months ago with Stage IV throat cancer, is now himself an indirect beneficiary of what the Jay Fund does to provide financial/emotional support to pediatric cancer victims and their families. As the man known as Mort learned in his own battle, which metastasized into his lungs in November, he draws inspiration from watching kids fight this terrible disease with an upbeat attitude.

“What I saw at MD Anderson was great humanity, the promise of young people of all nationalities,” said Mortensen. “Not just the patients, but the support of their caregivers. You’re seeing all kinds of pediatric patients and families fight this battle. Now I have a clear image and picture of what they’re feeling.”

Mortensen, 65, remains in the fight of his life to return to the ESPN airwaves for the start of the 2017 football season. He’s been through chemotherapy and the standard 35 radiation treatments. Mortensen thought he was on the cusp of remission last August, until a biopsy in November revealed the cancer had spread into his lungs.

NFL referee Tony Corrente, a throat cancer survivor who had the same oncologist as Mortensen , had forewarned him early on about the challenges he’d be facing.

“[Corrente] said you’re going to go through a period in radiation where you’re going to feel you had the worst strep throat ever in you life times 100,” said Moretensen, whose weight plummeted down to a low of 142 pounds, which he has mostly regained. “And when you’re done with radiation, it’s going to get worse for the next three or four months, which it did.”

Though he can’t play golf due to impending hernia surgery, Mortensen was determined not to miss the Jay Fund event this year. It motivates him to be around people dedicated to a cause, now closer to his heart than he could have imagined a short time ago.

Sunday night at the Jay Fund dinner, Mortensen was touched when he saw 22-year-old cancer survivor Marissa Ierna speak about her battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, which inflicted the lower calf muscles of her legs.

Mortensen, who met Ierna briefly two years ago when they sat at the same table as she received a Jay Fund scholarship, received an email from her right after his cancer diagnosis. Among the hundreds of correspondences of encouragement sent to Mortensen during his battle, it was the words from Ierna on January 19, 2016 that stuck with him the most.

Here is a partial transcript of Ierna’s email to Mortensen: “I want to first say how sorry I am to hear about your recent diagnosis. It took me a while to learn that in order to get through the chemo and all the hard days, I had to keep a smile on my face and always have a positive attitude. I wish I would have known that earlier in treatment, it would have made the first few months a lot easier. As you start treatment, just remember to keep a positive attitude and always stay strong.

“I am very thankful to cancer for all it has provided me. I know this sounds crazy, but it has changed my life for the better. I encourage you to take this terrible disease and turn it into something amazing! The toughest battles are given to the strongest warriors, which means you can do this!”

Now imagine a man in his mid-60s, fresh off a cancer diagnosis, reading that from a young woman he met only briefly at a Jay Fund dinner. It uplifted Mortensen beyond measure, especially when cancer was beating him down.

So when Mortensen heard Ierna’s message to the Jay Fund audience on Sunday, the memory of that email moved him to tears all over again.

“Kids in a cancer unit are just so dang resilient, they actually inspire you,” Mortensen said. “Everybody goes through the fear of cancer on some level, and Marissa’s note was one of the most memorable.

“I read it once or twice all over again when I was in the dark shadows of my cancer journey. I was more emotional listening to her [at the Jay Fund dinner] because it hit me deeper. You couldn’t meet Marissa with that unforgettable smile, hear her story, and ever forget her.”

Ierna recently graduated from Florida State with a marketing degree and just took a job working with the Jay Fund. An avid runner, she’s approaching four years in remission and just ran the Boston Marathon in 3:28.31.

“My oncologist told me I’d never be able to run again any more than five miles because of the radiation in my leg, making me prone to stress fractures,” Ierna said.

A hard tumor was wrapped around her leg muscles, and the cancer in her bone marrow showed it advanced to Stage IV, just like Mortensen.

Ierna, an Atlantic Coast High graduate, credits the Jay Fund for providing her parents and younger brother with the emotional support they needed to cope through her illness. She’s been paying it forward ever since, making it her personal mission to help others like Mortensen in the same predicament.

It’s still unclear what the outcome will be for Mortensen. Acting on a tip from Coughlin, he’s battling the cancer in his lungs with immunotherapy, a treatment option with less intense side effects than chemo or radiation.

The 26-year ESPN employee has most of his voice and hair back, but his saliva glands aren’t yet fully restored to easily get him through 30-second sound bites. He’s hopeful another three months of down time before the season starts will advance the healing process, allowing him to return to full-time duty for Sunday Night and Monday Night Countdown shows.

Mortensen has seen the ravages of cancer up close, how it initially “crushed” his wife Micki and struck fear in so many kids during cancer treatment visits. He has gained an even greater appreciation for Coughlin’s charity, which has delivered over $8 million in grants during its 22-year existence.

But the Jay Fund is about more than just providing families financial assistance. It’s also about cancer survivors emotionally lifting up the next patient.

As Chris Mortensen discovered on his cancer journey, you can never be too old to be inspired by the young.

First long-term study on HPV claims the vaccine is 100% effective at protecting men from cancer caused by the STI

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Cheyenne Roundtree

The first long-term study conducted into the HPV vaccine confirm it is almost 100 percent effective at protecting men from developing oral cancer.

The treatment was approved to the market in 2006 to prevent women from getting cervical cancer but experts haven’t been able to fully examine its effect over time. Now, the results are in from a three-year study on the effects – the longest investigation ever on HPV.

It confirmed that there was no trace of cancer-linked strains of HPV among men who received the vaccine – whereas two percent of untreated men had a potentially cancerous strain.

Another study, also released today, found the jab makes it next to impossible for vaccinated children to develop genital warts from the STI in their late teens and 20s.

Despite a multitude of interest and research, these are the first substantial studies to confirm the vaccine’s ability to protect people from the STI and diseases that can stem from it.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the US, with approximately 80 million people currently infected.

Although most infections disappear on their own, without even displaying symptoms, some strains can lead to genital warts and even cancers, including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectum and cervical cancer. Approximately 28,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV are diagnosed annually – most of which would have preventable with the vaccine, the CDC says.

The vaccine was first introduced with the main goal to prevent cervical cancer in women, but only about half of those eligible are getting the shots.

The study on HPV vaccines leading to oral cancer in men was led by Dr. Maura Gillison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It was the first research done on whether the vaccine might prevent oral HPV infections in young men, and the results suggest it can.

The data were compiled from 2,627 men and women ages 18 to 33 years in a national health study from 2011 to 2014. The results in men were striking – no infections in the vaccinated group versus 2.13 percent of the others.

The two-dose vaccine study on genital warts was conducted by medical experts at the Boston University School of Medicine and examined the number of shots given to patients. They concluded that girls given two or three jabs prevented better against genital warts compared to those given one or no jabs.

There were similar results in the two and three jab test subjects, which experts concluding two counts of the vaccine were enough.

Rebecca Perkins, an obstetrician and the lead author of the Boston study, said: ‘This study validates the new recommendations and allows us to confidently move forward with the two dose schedule for the prevention of genital warts.’