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For this cancer, ‘stage 4’ isn’t as bad as it sounds

Source: www.omaha.com
Author: Steve Hendrix – The Washington Post

Hearing the word “cancer” in a doctor’s office is bad enough. Hearing “stage 4” invokes even more dread. When I learned I had stage 4 HPV-related oral cancer, I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but I knew there wasn’t a stage 5.

Doctors use the standardized staging system to describe the location, size and extent of a cancer and its spread throughout the body. Using data on the treatment and survivability of each particular kind of cancer, clinicians combine these factors to produce a number from stage 1 (a small tumor confined to one spot) to stage 4 (a cancer that has spread, either to a single adjacent lymph node or to distant organs).

My cancer was stage 4A, a small tumor at the base of my tongue that had spread to a single lymph node in my neck.

My doctor immediately tried to soften the blow. There were problems with the staging rules as they applied to this kind of cancer, he said. HPV oropharyngeal cancers, while potentially fatal, were far more treatable than other oral cancers, particularly the ones related to tobacco and alcohol use that were used to define the staging standards.

He was right. A study published in the Lancet early this year found that the current guidelines lead to needless panic for the newly diagnosed. “At the present time, most patients with HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer are told they have (stage 4) disease, but the reality is that their outlook is similar to that of patients with the most curable malignant diseases,” the study authors wrote.

This month, the American Joint Committee on Cancer is releasing new guidelines for HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer staging that will ease patient fears and make it easier for doctors to offer less-invasive treatment options.

“It’s remarkable,” said my own physician, Arjun Joshi of George Washington University. “Under the new system, you would only be a stage 1.”

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

E-cigarettes ‘just as harmful as tobacco’ for oral health

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com
Author: Honor Whiteman

Electronic cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. When it comes to oral health, however, new research suggests vaping may be just as harmful as smoking.

a-woman-using-an-ecigarette

Researchers suggest vaping may be equally – if not more – harmful for oral health than smoking.

In a study published in the journal Oncotarget, researchers found that the chemicals present in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) vapor were equally as damaging – in some cases, more damaging – to mouth cells as tobacco smoke.

Such damage can lead to an array of oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth loss, and mouth cancer.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices containing a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. The heating device vaporizes the liquid – usually when the user “puffs” on the device – and the resulting vapor is inhaled.

While e-cigarette liquids do not contain tobacco – a highly harmful component of conventional cigarettes – they do contain nicotine and other chemicals, including flavoring agents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of e-cigarettes has increased in recent years, particularly among young people. In 2015, 16 percent of high-school students reported using the devices, compared with just 1.5 percent in 2011.

E-cigarettes are considered by many to be safer than conventional smoking, but because the devices are relatively new to the market, little is known about the long-term effects of vaping on health.

In particular, study leader Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues note that there has been limited data on how e-cigarette vapor affects oral health.

Flavored vapor worsens damage to gum tissue cells
To address this gap in research, the team exposed the gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor.

The tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.

The researchers found that all e-cigarette vapor caused damage to gum tissue cells comparable to that caused by exposure to tobacco smoke.

“We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.” said Irfan Rahman, Ph.D.

The researchers note that nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease, but e-cigarette flavoring appeared to exacerbate the cell damage caused by e-cigarette vapor, with menthol-flavored vapor posing the most harm.

While further research is needed to investigate the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, Rahman and team believe their findings indicate that the devices may have negative implications for oral health.

“Overall, our data suggest the pathogenic role of [e-cigarette] aerosol to cells and tissues of the oral cavity, leading to compromised periodontal health,” they conclude.

E-cigarette vapor damaged, killed 53 percent of mouth cells in 3 days
Another study recently published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology builds on the findings from Rahman and colleagues, after finding a high rate of mouth cell death with exposure to e-cigarette vapor over just a few days.

To reach their findings, Dr. Mahmoud Rouabhia, of the Faculty of Dental Medicine at Université Laval in Canada, and colleagues placed epithelial cells from the mouth in a chamber that contained a liquid similar to saliva.

To simulate vaping, the researchers pumped e-cigarette vapor into the chamber at a rate of two 5-second puffs every 60 seconds for 15 minutes a day. This was performed over 1, 2, or 3 days.

On analyzing the vapor-exposed epithelial cells under a microscope, the researchers identified a significant increase in the rate of cell damage and death.

The rate of damage or death in unexposed cells is around 2 percent, the researchers note. However, they found that with exposure to e-cigarette vapor, the number of dead or dying cells rose to 18 percent, 40 percent, and 53 percent over 1, 2, and 3 days, respectively.

While the cumulative effects of the cell damage caused by e-cigarette are unclear, the researchers believe their findings are a cause for concern.

“Damage to the defensive barrier in the mouth can increase the risk of infection, inflammation, and gum disease. Over the longer term, it may also increase the risk of cancer. This is what we will be investigating in the future.” said Dr. Mahmoud Rouabhia

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Curbing oral cancer

Source:.businessmirror.com.ph
Author: Henrylito D. Tacio

“Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country today. Most of it can be prevented since its risk factors are lifestyle and environmentally related. Early detection of cancer is a crucial key to the survival and recovery of its victims. The earlier you detect the malignancy the higher the survival rate of the patient.”
—Dr. Vic Fileto Chua of Movement for Early Detection of Cancer

What’s the leading cause of oral cancer? Is it smoking or heavy drinking? Although smoking and drinking may cause oral cancer, the leading cause is oral sex, a sexual act that involves the stimulation of the genitalia using the mouth.

Studies have shown that 64 percent of cancers of the oral cavity, head, and neck in the United States are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is commonly spread via oral sex. The more oral sex you have – and the more oral sex partners you have – the greater the risk of developing these potentially deadly cancers.

oral_cancer

“An individual who has six or more lifetime partners—on whom they’ve performed oral sex—has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex,” explained Dr. Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University. Gillison headed a team of researchers who examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years ending in 2004. They found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to HPV surged to 72 percent from about 16 percent.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said that by 2020, the virus-linked throat tumors—which mostly affected men—will more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer.

“The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade,” observed Gillison. “What we believe is happening is that the number of sexual partners and exposure to HPV has risen over that same time period.”

In his weekly column in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dr. Rafael D. Castillo noted: “Previously, it was well established that smoking (three-fold increase) and drinking alcohol (2.5 times) increased the risk for oral cancer, but even if you combine them, the risk is no match compared to that seen in those who frequently engage in oral sex.”

The government doesn’t have any data on the prevalence of oral cancer in the country but what alarms Castillo is that oral cancer might be rampant among young people. A study done by the University of the Philippines Population Institute showed that more than four million teenagers and young Filipinos are already engaged in sexual practices.

The findings of the third Young Adult Fertility Survey revealed that a total of 4.32 million Filipinos aged 15 to 24 are already sexually active. Another finding is that oral sex has become a common practice “among most sexually adventurous teens.”

“Doing simple math, if the expected prevalence of oral cancer in the general population is 1.5 percent, and with a nine-fold increase in risk, that means that we have approximately 583,000 young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 who are likely candidates to develop oral cancer,” Dr. Castillo surmised.

“Today’s teens consider oral sex to be casual, socially acceptable, inconsequential, and significantly less risky to their health than ‘real’ sex,” said Gillison. Teens simply think oral sex is “not that a big a deal,” added Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “Parents and health educators are not talking to teens about oral sex. Period.”

Members of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) also noted that the practice of oral sex can lead to infections of the oral cavity, which may result to cancer of the tonsils, tongue or throat.

“Any lesion in the mouth should be seriously considered,” said Dr. Anne Camus, PDA’s Manila dental chapter president. “Not all can develop to cancer but malignancy must always be taken as an imminent possibility.”

A regular check-up with a dentist would help detect malignancies in the mouth. “The dentists are usually the first to see lesions in the mouth of our patients,” Camus said. “At this early point, if the lesion turns out to be malignant, then chances are it is still curable.”

Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the: cheek lining, floor of the mouth, gums, and roof of the mouth (palate). Most oral cancers are a type called squamous cell carcinomas, which tend to spread quickly.

Aside from oral sex, smoking, and drinking, other factors that add to the risk of oral cancer include repeated irritation from the sharp edges of broken teeth, fillings, or dental prostheses (dentures). “The research regarding their involvement is uncertain. It is likely that there is a complex interaction of many external and internal factors that play a role in the development of oral cancer,” points out the Oral Cancer Foundation in the United States.

“Oral cancers are usually painless for a considerable length of time but eventually do cause pain,” notes “The Merck Manual of Medical Information.” “Pain usually starts when the cancer erodes into nearby nerves. When pain from cancer of the tongue or roof of the mouth begins, it usually occurs with swallowing as with a sore throat.”

The early growth of salivary gland tumors may or may not be painful. “When these tumors do become painful, the pain may be worsened by food, which stimulates the secretion of saliva,” the Merck manual informs. “Cancer of the jawbone often causes pain and a numb or pins-and-needles sensation, somewhat like the feeling of a dental anesthetic wearing off. Cancer of the lip or check may first become painful when the enlarged tissue is inadvertently bitten.”

Discolored areas on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth may be signs of cancer. “An area in the mouth that has recently become brown or darkly discolored may be a melanoma (malignant tumor),” the Merck manual states. “Sometimes, a brown, flat, freckle-like area (smoker’s patch) develops at the site where a cigarette or pipe is habitually held in the lips.”

“Keep in mind that your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems,” reminds the Oral Cancer Foundation. “Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. Should you discover something, make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.”

According to the US National Cancer Institute, oral cancer treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Some patients have a combination of these treatments.

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

HPV and mouth cancer

Source: www.hippocraticpost.com
Author: Thea Jourdan

hpv

Mouth cancer kills nearly 2000 people in the UK each year. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) of which there are over 100 different types, is more commonly associated with cervical cancer and genital warts, but it can also cause oral cancer, particularly of the back of the tongue and tonsils. The virus incorporates itself into the cell’s DNA and causes the cell to multiply out of control, leading to cancer.

In Britain, the number of mouth and throat cancers have increased by 40 per cent in just a decade, to 6,200 cases a year. According to Cancer Research UK, the HPV virus, which is transmitted to the mouth region from the genitals during oral sex, may be key to the ‘rapid rise’. Statistics also show that the more sexual partners you have the greater your chance of acquiring mouth cancer.

“There is now scientific evidence that a proportion of mouth and throat cancers are linked to HPV infection,” says Hazel Nunn, head of health information at Cancer Research UK. “We know that HPV is found in the mouth but we do not yet know how it gets there – whether through oral sex or otherwise. HPV virus has been found on the fingers and elsewhere on the body. It is possible that oral sex is having an impact but more research needs to be done into the kinds of behaviour that leads to this infection.”

“HPV has been causing mouth cancer for decades but the link is only now becoming clear. HPV is a hardy virus that likes sitting in lymphoid tissue wherever it is in the body,” explains Professor Mark McGurk, a senior consultant ENT surgeon based at London Bridge Hospital in London. That means it thrives in the lymphoid tissue in the mouth, including that of the tonsils and at the base of the tongue. For the same reason, it settles in the cervix, the vulva and around the anus.

For many people, HPV won’t cause any problems at all. “In fact, we know that 80 per cent of women and men will have the HPV infection at some time in their lives and clear it themselves without any symptoms,” explains Mr Mike Bowen, a consultant obstetrician and gynacologist based at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in London. “But for a few it can cause cellular changes that lead to cancer.”

Professor McGurk says that over the last 30 years, he has seen a rise in oropharyngeal cancer, which typically affects sexually active men in their 50s and 60s. “They may have been infected with the virus for some time and ,” he explains. The cancer reveals itself as growths on the tonsils and back of the tongue.

Many patients are only diagnosed at the late stage of their disease. Michael Douglas, the actor, already had stage 4 cancer when his cancer was recognized. Fortunately, oral cancer caused by HPV is very treatable, even when it is very advanced, using radiotherapy. “We used to do surgery on these cases, but we don’t need to anymore. In many cases, the cancer simply melts away with radiotherapy,” explains Professor McGurk. Patients with stage 1 and 2 Oral cancer caused by HPV have an 85 per cent chance of surviving for 5 years after treatment, and patients with stage 4 disease have a 60 per cent chance of surviving five years – impressive compared to the survival rates for other types of oral cancer where overall survival is 50 per cent over 5 years. [Cancer Research UK]

Cancer research UK is pushing for all mouth tumors to be tested to see if they are HPV positive, to assist with effective treatment of patients. “At the moment, it varies massively depending on what hospital you are in. We think it should be standard,” says Hazel Nunn.

Professor McGurk believes there is a simple explanation why men are more likely to have HPV in their mouths than women. “Women harbor the virus in their genitalia which provides a hospitable environment while the male penile area is a relatively hostile area for the virus to settle.”

One way to try and turn the tide would be to introduce a HPV vaccination for boys and girls before they become sexually active. Girls from the age of 12 in the UK have been offered vaccinations since 2008 against the two most common strains of HPV -16 and 18- which are linked to cervical cancer.

Boys are not offered the vaccine, but this should change, according to Professor Margaret Stanley, a virologist based at Cambridge University who believes that boys must be given the vaccine for HPV too from the age of 12 or 13.

‘Obviously cervical cancer is the big one but the other cancers – cancers of the anus and increasingly the tonsil and tongue – there is no screening for them and no way of detecting them until they are proper cancers and they are more common in men than in women.’

Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK points out that there is no evidence that vaccinating boys will help protect them from oral cancer. “It is theoretically possible but there have been no trials that had this as an end point. There is a danger that we get too far ahead of ourselves without evidence-based medicine.”

She insists that although HPV is a worrying factor, by far the most significant risks associated with mouth and throat cancers of all types are smoking and alcohol. “

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Tobacco is OUT! A third of all Major League Baseball stadiums to be free of tobacco

Source: www.dailyastorian.com
Author: American Heart Association News

With the end of this baseball season, so ended the long intertwined history of tobacco and baseball at more than one-third of all Major League stadiums.

The unhealthy coupling started unraveling when it became evident that chewing tobacco resulted in deadly consequences for some players, such as legendary San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn who died of mouth cancer in 2014.

Just months after Gwynn’s death, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announced he was being treated for oral cancer.

Although Major League Baseball and the players’ union could not agree to take action, several cities have. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco all have passed laws prohibiting tobacco use of any kind at sports venues. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season begins.

This week, the Washington, D.C. City Council gave final approval to a measure that would end the use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco like chew, dip and snuff – at all organized sporting events within the city, including Nationals Park.

Councilmember Yvette Alexander said the move is needed to help protect children, who often look to sports professionals as role models, from taking up the habit. The measure will now be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign into law.

Additionally, on Oct. 20, St. Petersburg, Florida, City Council Vice Chair Darden Rice introduced a proposal to ban smokeless tobacco products from the city’s athletic venues. The proposal includes Tropicana Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Rice said she hopes the proposal would clear before the start of the 2017 season.

Legislation is also currently under consideration in Toronto and the state of Minnesota.

“Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

GlaxoSmithKline pulls Cervarix from U.S. market

Source: www.managedcaremag.com
Author: staff

In response to “a very low market demand,” GlaxoSmithKline has decided to stop selling its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix in the United States, according to FiercePharma. The move gives Merck’s Gardasil unchallenged dominance of the HPV vaccine market in this country.

Last year, Cervarix earned only about $3.7 million in the U.S. out of a $107 million worldwide total. In contrast, the global total for Merck’s Gardasil franchise was $1.9 billion.

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year placed HPV vaccination rates at 42% of girls and 28% of boys ages 13 to 17 years––far short of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ goal of 80% for both boys and girls by 2020.

To combat the public’s lukewarm response, the CDC and other cancer organizations are urging health care providers to promote the cancer-prevention benefits of HPV vaccines rather than stressing that they protect against sexually transmitted infections, which puts off some parents who worry the vaccine will promote promiscuity or who feel that their preteens are too young to need the shots, according to the Wall Street Journal.

HPV, which is transmitted sexually, can cause at least six types of cancer as well as genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for boy and girls at age 11 or 12 and is also given at other ages.

Experts are urging pediatricians to present the vaccine as routine, rather than different from other preteen shots. They are also stressing completion of the vaccine series by age 13.

Merck, the maker of Gardasil, is currently airing an ad on national television that puts the onus on parents to get their children vaccinated.

Sources: FiercePharma; October 21, 2016; and Wall Street Journal; October 17, 2016.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

The startling rise in oral cancer in men, and what it says about our changing sexual habits

Source: www.washingtonpost.com
Author: Ariana Eunjung Cha

Oral cancer is on the rise in American men, with health insurance claims for the condition jumping 61 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to a new analysis.

oc2

The most dramatic increases were in throat cancer and tongue cancer, and the data show that claims were nearly three times as common in men as in women during that same period with a split of 74 percent to 26 percent.

The startling numbers — published in a report on Tuesday by FAIR Health an independent nonprofit — are based on a database of more than 21 billion privately billed medical and dental claims. They illustrate both the cascading effect of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the United States and our changing sexual practices.

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 50,000 Americans will be infected this year, with 9,500 dying from the disease. In past generations, oral cancer was mostly linked to smoking, alcohol use or a combination of the two. But even as smoking rates have fallen, oral cancer rates have remained about the same, and researchers have documented in recent studies that this may be caused by HPV.

HPV infects cells of the skin and the membranes that lines areas such as the mouth, throat, tongue, tonsils, rectum and sexual organs. Transmission can occur when these areas come into contact with the virus. HPV is a leading cause of cervical, vaginal and penile cancers.

Surveys have shown that younger men are more likely to perform oral sex than their older counterparts and have a tendency to engage with more partners.

“These differences in sexual behavior across age cohorts explain the differences that we see in oral HPV prevalence and in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer across the generations and why the rate of this cancer is increasing,” Gypsyamber D’Souza, an associate professor in the Viral Oncology and Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at the time. The work was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In February, researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting reported that men are not only more likely to be infected with oral HPV than women but are less likely to clear the infection. It’s not known why oral HPV is more aggressive in men.

oc1

HPV is an extremely common virus that has infected nearly 80 million, or one in four, people in the United States. Fortunately, the risk of contracting HPV can be greatly reduced by a vaccine. HPV has become a public health priority in recent years with dozens of countries recommending universal vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get it at the age of 11 or 12, although they may get vaccinated as early as 9 years old. The CDC said earlier this month that young people who get it before the age of 15 need two doses rather than the typical three.

A CDC study has found that although fewer teenagers and young adults are having sex than in previous years, more are engaging in oral sex than vaginal intercourse under the assumption that it’s safer.

“However, young people, particularly those who have oral sex before their first vaginal intercourse, may still be placing themselves at risk of STIs or HIV before they are ever at risk of pregnancy,” the researchers wrote in the 2012 report.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Pre-Teens need just two doses of HPV vaccine, not three: Feds

Source: www.nbcnews.com/health
Author: Maggie Fox

There’s good news for kids who haven’t received all their HPV vaccines yet – they only need two doses of the vaccine instead of three, federal government advisers said Wednesday. The new recommendations should make it easier to get more children vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes a range of cancers including cervical cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer, officials said.

“It’s not often you get a recommendation simplifying vaccine schedules,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC immediately accepted the recommendations from its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

“Safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against HPV cancers with two visits instead of three means more Americans will be protected from cancer,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “This recommendation will make it simpler for parents to get their children protected in time.”

The CDC says every pre-teen boy and girl should get the vaccine, but fewer than a third have received all three doses.

Messonnier says the three-dose schedule was based on the earliest studies of the vaccine. New studies show that two doses protect people for decades from the cancer-causing virus. And studies also suggest that spacing the two doses a year apart is at least as effective, if not more effective than giving them more closely together – something that could also make it easier to get kids fully vaccinated.

Older teens who have not been vaccinated at all before age 15 should still get three doses, because there’s not enough evidence to show whether two doses fully protect them, ACIP said.

Adults can also get the HPV vaccine. “Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21,” the CDC says.

“The vaccine is also recommended for any man who has sex with men through age 26, and for men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get HPV vaccine when they were younger.”

HPV is extremely common, but rates of HPV-related disease have fallen among vaccinated people.

“About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. HPV infection can cause cervical,vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in both men and women,” the CDC says.

The original two vaccines on the market protected against either two or four of the strains of HPV known to cause cancer. Now the only vaccine available in the U.S. is Merck’s Gardasil 9, which protect against 9 strains of HPV.

Messonnier says it’s too soon to say whether teens vaccinated with the older vaccines should get a top-up dose with the new formulation.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Mouth, throat cancers caused by HPV on the rise, especially among Canadian men

Source: www.ctvnews.ca
Author: Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca Staff

Mouth and throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus have been rising steadily over the past two decades, with a “dramatic” increase among Canadian men, according to a new report from the Canadian Cancer Society.

The special report on HPV-associated cancers, released Wednesday as part of the 2016 Canadian Cancer Statistics breakdown, says the rate of mouth and throat cancers in men is poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer diagnoses in women.

Researchers and doctors have known for decades that certain strains of HPV – the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in Canada and the world — cause cervical cancer. But the latest Canadian cancer statistics show that only 35 per cent of HPV cancers are cervical, and that about 33 per cent of HPV cancers occur in males.

The latest data show that about one-third of all HPV cancers in Canada are found in the mouth and throat.

Between 1992 and 2012, the incidence of HPV-related mouth and throat cancers increased 56 per cent in males and 17 per cent in females. In 1992, the age-standardized incidence rate (or ASIR) of those cancers was 4.1 per 100,000 Canadian males. In 2012, it was 6.4 per 100,000 males. In females, the rate was 1.2 in 1992 and 1.4 in 2012.

‘I thought I was done’
Three years ago, Dan Antoniuk noticed a lump on his neck and initially thought that it was just a swollen gland. But when the Edmonton father went to see a doctor, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, caused by HPV.

“I was devastated. I thought I was done,” Antoniuk, 61, told CTV News. “It shattered me, it shattered my family and affected everybody sitting in the waiting room.”

Antoniuk said that until his diagnosis, he had never heard of HPV cancers in men. His doctors told him that, despite the late stage of his cancer, his prognosis was still good with the right treatment. He underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and although the treatments took a toll on his body, he’s now doing well.

“The end result is I am here, I am healthy and I can do most of the same things I have done before,” he said. “The ultimate message is: Be aware of your body and be aware of the fact that this could be something more serious and there is hope now.”

Dr. Hadi Seikaly, a professor and oncology surgeon at the University of Alberta, said doctors are seeing more HPV-related cancers in both men and women.

“The surprising thing is that we’re just seeing the front end of the epidemic,” he told CTV News. “And it is an epidemic … cervical cancer rates are coming down and head, neck cancer rates are going up.”

Doctors say that oropharyngeal cancers (which include the back of the throat, the base of the tongue and the tonsils) and cancers of the mouth used to be mostly found in older patients who smoked, drank heavily or had other health issues. But it’s now more common to see HPV-related throat and mouth cancers in younger, otherwise healthy patients.

“HPV is without question driving the dramatic increase we are seeing in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC),” Dr. Joseph Dort, the chief of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, told CTV News.

“Our most recent data shows that about 70 per cent of our new cases of this cancer are HPV positive. Recent studies suggest that oropharyngeal cancer will become the most common HPV-associated malignancy by the year 2020, surpassing cancer of the cervix,” he said in an email.

The changing face of the disease
Jennifer Cicci was shocked to learn that she had oral cancer caused by HPV after a lump appeared on the side of her neck in the fall of 2013.

The dental hygienist and mother of four from Brampton, Ont., said she was an otherwise healthy woman in her 40s who didn’t have any of the typical risk factors associated with head and neck cancers.

Cicci’s surgeon removed a baseball-sized mass of tissue from the back of her throat and a section from the back of her tongue. She also underwent laser surgery and radiation, with painful side effects. Still, she feels she “got off easy,” despite the entire ordeal.

In some cases, mouth and neck cancer treatments can have devastating effects on a patient’s ability to speak and eat. Some patients have had parts of their tongues and even their voice boxes removed.

The good news, doctors say, is that HPV-related cancers seem to be more treatable. More than 80 per cent of patients will survive if the cancer is caught in time.

“I felt like having this gave me an opportunity to raise awareness of something that I felt was becoming an epidemic,” Cicci said.

Dr. Brian O’Sullivan, a head and neck cancer specialist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, said that HPV infections in the throat and mouth are largely linked to sexual contact, but he has also seen patients who have had very few sexual partners and little experience with oral sex.

Calls for more widespread HPV immunization
The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that nearly 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with an HPV-caused cancer (that can include cervical, vaginal, anal and oral) and about 1,200 will die from it in 2016.

The society is focusing its messaging on cancer prevention and informing the public about the HPV vaccine. The two HPV vaccines approved by Health Canada are Gardasil and Cervarix.

HPV immunization is already available through publicly-funded school programs across the country, starting between Grades 4 and 7, up to age 13. But while the vaccine is offered to girls in all provinces and territories, only six provinces — Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec – also offer it to boys.

The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the remaining provinces and territories to expand HPV immunization to boys.

Robert Nuttall, the society’s assistant director of health policy, also said that adults should talk to their doctors to see whether they can benefit from the HPV vaccine. However, there is currently no scientific evidence showing the benefits of HPV vaccines in older adults.

In Canada, Gardasil is approved for use in females aged 9 to 45, and males aged 9 to 26. Cervarix is approved for use in females between the ages of 10 and 25, but is currently not approved for boys and young men.

The vaccine works best in people who have not been exposed to HPV. That’s why it is given to school-aged children and teens as a preventative measure.

It will be a while before scientists can conclusively determine whether HPV vaccines can prevent throat and neck cancers, since it can take many years for an HPV infection to cause malignancies.

In the meantime, Dr. Seikaly says it’s important for Canadians to understand this disease could happen to anybody, because the modes of HPV transmission aren’t fully understood.

“They need to understand the signs and symptoms of it. And those include pain in your throat, difficulty swallowing, neck masses, ulcers in your mouth and throat,” he said. “And they need to make sure during their physical that doctors do look in their mouth and their throat.”

Early symptoms of mouth and throat cancers can often be vague, but they also include white or red patches inside the mouth or on the lips, persistent earaches and loose teeth.

As a dental hygienist who was also a cancer patient, Cicci urges regular exams of the mouth and throat during dental visits.

“What I try to do is to break down the stigma that is attached to (HPV),” she said. “The fact of the matter is, while most of the time it is still being sexually transmitted … we don’t know all the modes of transmission.”

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Oral cancer in the crosshairs at San Antonio Dental School

Source: tpr.org
Author: Wendy Rigby

San Antonio researchers are working on a new therapy for a stealthy killer: oral cancer. Visits to the dentist are your number one protection against the disease. In a lab at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, dental researcher Cara Gonzales, DDS, Ph.D., shared promising news on a new approach to healing.

“It was very exciting,” Gonzales said. “These patients have not had any new therapeutic options in 40 years.”

The discovery of a new gene that’s turned on in oral cancers gave Gonzales and her colleagues a new target at which to aim. It’s a gene that’s also found in lung cancers.

So-called nude mice are used in the oral cancer experiments. Webdt Rigby / Texas Public Radio

So-called nude mice are used in the oral cancer experiments.
Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

Gonzales works in a sprawling space filled with lab equipment and cell lines used in many molecular biology projects. One of her research assistants brought in a cage of lab animals with some strange lumps on their backs.

“These are called nude mice because they don’t have a complete immune system,” Gonzales explained.

These mice are at the center of a successful experiment. First, scientists used human oral cancer cells to grow large tumors on the animals. They tried one oral cancer drug already on the market. Not much action. Then, they tried a lung cancer drug, also already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Not that effective on its own. Finally, they used a combination of two drugs. What happened made the medical profession take notice.

“When we combined the two, then we saw a 50 percent reduction in the tumor volumes after 14 days,” Gonzales described.

That kind of success could help thousands of patients whose cancers aren’t caught until the later stage, patients like Paige Lewis of San Antonio who was only 35 when she got the results of a biopsy from her doctor.

“I walked in and she said the words I’ll never forget,” Lewis recalled. “‘Sweetie, it’s cancer.’”

Lewis had tried for a year to get various doctors and her dentist to examine and biopsy the strange spot under her tongue. But no one really thought she was at risk for the disease.

“I was told it’s most likely nothing because I’m young. I was only 35 years old. I was a female non-smoker, non-drinker,” Lewis said.

While smoking, drinking and age are big risk factors for oral cancer, so is the presence of the human papillomavirus in the body. Some cases, like Lewis’, are simply unexplained.

Since her cancer was so advanced, Lewis, a single mother of three children, faced a massive surgery and weeks of radiation. Paige still bears scars on her arm from a major surgery where doctors removed her tumor and rebuilt her tongue.

“They removed half of my tongue,” she described. “They harvested part of my arm in order to place a flap in my mouth. And then a part of my leg to cover part of my arm.”

Lewis spent 20 days in the intensive care unit. If her cancer had been detected earlier, or if doctors had the ability to shrink her tumor, her ordeal would have been less painful and less risky. Only slightly more than half of all oral cancer patients are alive five years after their treatment. Lewis is four years out.

U.T. Health Science Center researchers are trying to secure funding for human trials which may take place in San Antonio. The pills used in this new combination target tumors specifically, so patients would not suffer as many side effects as they do with conventional chemotherapy, side effects like hair loss and gastrointestinal issues.

Dr. Cara Gonzales’ oral cancer paper was published in the journal Oral Oncology.
“If we can find something that would treat these advanced tumors, we could potentially increase the survival rate of approximately 25 percent of all oral cancer patients,” Gonzales stated.

Lewis is coping well with the side effects of surgery and radiation, but it hasn’t been easy. “Cancer takes over your life during that period of time. And it affects every single person you know,” Lewis said. “All of this could have been avoided with an early diagnosis.”

An oral cancer screening at the dentist only takes two minutes, and checking for oral cancer should be part of a regular dental screening. Like Lewis and thousands of others, though, you may have to insist the hygienist or dentist examine your mouth, tongue and gums in detail. Having a medical professional look for signs and symptoms of the disease is still the best defense against oral cancer which claims an average of one American life every hour.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|