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Health Beat: Hunting head and neck cancer cells

Source: www.wfmz.com
Author: Melanie Falcon

Leonard Monteith led a healthy lifestyle. That’s why sudden problems with his mouth caught his attention.

“I noticed that when I would stick my tongue out, it would deviate to one side, and I thought that’s not right,” said Monteith, 66.

Doctors found an inch-wide tumor at the base of Monteith’s tongue. He was diagnosed with HPV positive cancer.

“The traditional treatment for head and neck cancer is really toxic and exhaustive and leads to side-effects that are very significant,” said Dr. Nabil Saba, a medical oncologist at Emory University Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta.

After treatment, Monteith’s cancer went away for six months, but then it came back in his lungs.

Saba is a nationally-known expert in the treatment of head and neck cancers. He thought Monteith would be a good candidate for a new therapy.

“Immunotherapy is really, I think, a complete game changer,” said Saba.

Saba said two separate immunotherapy drugs are showing real promise. A drug called Nivolumab blocks the cancer receptors, allowing the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Another drug, Pembrolizumab, also works in a similar way.

Because the trials are ongoing, Saba can’t say which specific drug Monteith was on.

“He had very good response to the treatment, to the point where we could not see any more lung lesions on the scan,” Saba said.

Monteith has been improving for three years, but he knows his condition could change without warning.

“I just live my life as I think I would have anyway,” said Monteith.

Doctors say the survival rates for patients who continued on Nivolumab were twice of those who did not take the immunotherapy drug. Twenty percent of the patients on the drug had their tumors shrink.

Research Summary: Hunting head and neck cancer cells (pdf format)

Changing definition of margin status for oral cancer

Source: www.medpagetoday.com
Author: staff

Data cast doubt on 5-mm standard, use of frozen sections

A commonly used metric for defining a close surgical margin for resected oral-cavity tumors failed to identify adequately the patients at increased risk of recurrence, a retrospective review of 432 cases showed.

The analysis showed an inverse relationship with increasing distance between invasive tumor and inked main specimen margin on the main specimen, but results of a receiver operating characteristic curve analysis identified a cutoff of < 1 mm as most appropriate for classifying patients as having a high risk of local recurrence, as opposed to the more commonly used cutoff of 5 mm.

The analysis also showed that resection of tissue beyond 1 mm on intraoperative frozen section did not improve local disease control, as reported online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Cancer.

“The commonly used cutoff of 5 mm for a close margin lacks an evidential basis in predicting local recurrence,” Steven M. Sperry, MD, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues concluded. “Invasive tumor within 1 mm of the permanent specimen margin is associated with a significantly higher local recurrence risk, though there is no significant difference for greater distances.

“This study suggests that a cutoff of less than 1 mm identifies patients at increased local recurrence risk who may benefit from additional treatment. Analysis of the tumor specimen, rather than the tumor bed, is necessary for this determination.”

The results add to a growing volume of evidence that margins <5 mm can still be curative, said Michael Burkey, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the study. The data also add to evidence that the margins calculated from the main specimen are more predictive than frozen-section margins that many head and neck surgeons have used for years.

“This doesn’t change the fact that clearly getting all the tumor out and clearing margins microscopically are still critical to curative surgery,” Burkey told MedPage Today. “The study provided good data to show that when they got positive margins, even if they subsequently treated with radiation therapy, that led to no improvement in local recurrence.”

“A second key point is that the way we determine the adequacy of surgery is changing,” he added. “We used to say 5 mm, and now it’s probably 1 to 2 mm. More and more we’re finding that the best way to look at margins is off the main specimen, not by taking frozen sections from the tumor bed.”

Despite widespread use in surgical management of head and neck cancers, interpretation of margin status and associated prognostic implications remain imprecise. A survey of head and neck surgeons showed that 83% of respondents considered carcinoma in situ as a positive margin and 17% included dysplasia in the definition. Additionally, 69% of the surgeons used a cutoff of <5 mm between invasive tumor and resection margin to a close margin, consistent with multiple reports in the literature. However, other literature suggested a smaller-distance cutoff is adequate, Sperry’s group noted.

To continue an investigation of the clinical significance and impact of surgical margins in oral-cavity cancer, the authors retrospectively reviewed results in 432 consecutive patients with primary oral-cavity squamous cell carcinoma treated at the University of Iowa from 2005 to 2014. Patients with recurrent disease were excluded from the analysis. The primary outcome was local recurrence as determined by minimum distance in millimeters between invasive tumor and inked main specimen margin.

The patients had a median age of 62, and men accounted for 58% of the study population. T-stage distribution consisted of T1 disease in 45% of patients, T2 in 21%, and T3/4 in 34%. Subsite location was tongue in 45%, alveolus in 21%, floor of the mouth in 18%, and other in 15%.

Rates of local recurrence by margin status were:
44% for microscopic positive margins
28% for margins <1 mm
17% for 1-mm margins
13% for 2-mm and 3-mm margins
14% for 4-mm margins
11% for ≥5-mm margins

“These data demonstrated an exponential inverse relationship between distance and local recurrence, with no appreciable difference in local recurrence for distances greater than 1 mm,” the authors reported.

Local recurrence also was determined on the basis of intraoperative frozen section assessment from tumor bed sampling. The analysis showed similar recurrence rates for close-margin distances between patients with involved and negative frozen sections. Among patients with a positive main specimen margin, those with an involved frozen margin had the highest local recurrence rate at 54%, as compared with 36% for patients with a negative frozen margin.

The authors analyzed the results on the basis of whether additional tissue was resected to achieve a negative margin after initial frozen section indicated cancer. The analysis incorporated collapsed margins of ≥5 mm, 1 to 5 mm, <1 mm, and positive. Success was defined as a final margin uninvolved with either invasive carcinoma or carcinoma in situ after further resection. For patients with a positive main specimen margin, successful additional resection did not improve local control.

“For patients with final margin distances grater than 0 millimeter, the local recurrence rate appeared to be the same whether a successful additional resection of the margin was performed or note,” the authors reported.

Finally, Sperry’s group analyzed local recurrence according to whether patients received adjuvant radiation therapy. For patients with a positive main specimen margin, radiotherapy did not improve local control, and the recurrence rate was the same for the other main-specimen margin categories, regardless of whether radiation therapy was administered.
Study limitations included a relatively small group of surgeons performing the majority of surgical procedures, and the inability to compare results based on different methods of intraoperative margin evaluation, such as tumor bed versus main specimen sampling, the authors noted.

Reviewed by:
Robert Jasmer, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Primary Source:
JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Source Reference: Tasche KK, et al “Definition of ‘close margin’ in oral cancer surgery and association of margin distance with local recurrence rate” JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2017; DOI:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.0548.

American Dental Association and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announce collaboration

Source: www.prnewswire.com
Author: press release

The American Dental Association (ADA) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced a joint effort to improve patient outcomes through programs aimed at dental and medical professionals and the public to increase human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations and tobacco cessation for oral cancer prevention.

“ADA member dentists promise to put patients first, and as a profession we look for innovative ways to treat and prevent disease, and promote wellness,” said ADA President Gary Roberts, D.D.S. “Together with MD Anderson, one of the most respected cancer centers in the world, we are excited to pioneer new programs to help our patients live healthy and disease-free lives.”

Both organizations agree that increasing the percentage of children and young adults vaccinated for HPV is critical to improving their health and reducing risk of several related cancers, including those of the oropharynx (the part of the throat just behind the mouth which includes the back third of the tongue; the back part of the roof of the mouth, also known as the soft palate; the tonsils, and the side and back wall of the throat). In addition, programs aimed at preventing children and young adults from starting to smoke while encouraging current smokers to quit are another key component of the collaboration.

“MD Anderson is pleased to partner with the ADA to develop innovative educational programs that will increase awareness about the prevention and early detection of oral cancers,” said Marshall E. Hicks, M.D., president ad interim, MD Anderson. “Tobacco use and HPV infection remain the leading causes of oral cancers. Through this collaboration, we have a significant opportunity to inform care providers and the public about the associated risks, and we can make a difference in the fight to end cancer.”

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 50,000 cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx will be diagnosed this year in the U.S., and rates in men are more than twice as high as in women. These cancers are often not diagnosed until late stages, when treatment is less effective.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancers in the U.S., responsible for roughly one-third of all cases. HPV infections are responsible for approximately 70 percent of all oropharyngeal cancers, about 9,000 annually, as well as the majority of cervical, anal and genital cancers. HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are four times more common in men than women, and the incidence rate of these cancers has risen significantly in recent years.

About the American Dental Association
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 161,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA’s state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA’s flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website MouthHealthy.org.

About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world’s most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 47 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is ranked No.1 for cancer care in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey. It has ranked as one of the nation’s top two hospitals since the survey began in 1990, and has ranked first for nine of the past 10 years. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).

Swallowing exercises can improve quality of life for head and neck cancer patients

Source: www.targetedonc.com
Author: Gina Columbus

While patients with head and neck cancer are likely to experience difficulty swallowing after undergoing intesity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), Lynn Acton, MS, CCC (SLP) says the use of swallowing exercises can drastically improve muscle movement for these patients both during and after radiation therapy (RT).

In a study conducted by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham Women’s Hospital, patients with head and neck cancer who underwent RT in a 2-year period were evaluated for swallowing difficulty with a video swallow to score stricture and aspiration. Of the 96 patients evaluated who received IMRT once daily, 32% had some aspiration after therapy, while 37% had evidence of stricture following RT.

Studies are currently ongoing to explore the utility of swallowing modalities for these patients. For example, an interventional, randomized, multicenter phase III trial is comparing early-active swallowing therapy versus nonspecific swallowing management (NCT02892487). Researchers are conducting the study to determine that early-active swallowing therapy can improve the quality of life of patients undergoing RT for head and neck cancer.

Additionally, a behavioral questionnaire is evaluating adherence to preventative swallowing exercises and the reasons why patients choose not to follow them (NCT03010150). Patients will complete the questionnaire at baseline and again at 6 months following RT that will discuss adherence to swallowing exercises.

Acton, a lecturer in surgery (otolaryngology) and speech pathologist at Yale School of Medicine, discussed the significance of swallowing modalities for patients with head and neck cancer during and after RT in an interview with Targeted Oncology.

Targeted Oncology: What is the benefit of doing these swallowing exercises for this patient population?

Acton: I spoke about prophylactic exercises for swallowing for patients with head and neck cancer who are undergoing RT. We have found that if we keep the muscles mobile during the treatment, there is less fibrosis of the muscles. If the patients don’t have fibrosis, they are able to move better and have better swallowing function. During the treatment, patients will have some pain. We try to manage that and do things like a mouthwash to numb the area before they do these exercises.

It is more important to keep the muscles mobile because, when a joint like your jaw becomes immobile, the cartilage becomes thinner and the joints becomes inflamed and painful. If we keep the muscles moving, then the function is much greater. We like to [continue] to do the exercises after treatment, because RT can continue to contract the muscles over time. Therefore, patients do the exercises several times during the day and after treatment, too.

Targeted Oncology: Have there been any advancements in this field that have increased the quality of life for these patients even further?

Acton: It is basically a lifelong thing at this point. For young patients, they say they feel relief after doing the exercises. Some of them [are simple] neck exercises, [such as] neck rolls. I do try to tag it in with something that they are already doing during the day. On their smartphone, I’ll put an [alarm] that reminds them to do their exercises on the way to work, or maybe [while] they are reading a newspaper. I [put the written exercises] in the memos section [of their phone] to explain the exercises. Doing those things makes it a positive result. For the patients who do the exercises, we notice that they’re able to maintain their oral opening. Normally, you should be able to put 3 fingers in your mouth.

When I started, I was seeing patients after RT because we didn’t know it was important to keep these muscles mobile [during treatment]. They would be at a 1-finger opening and then we would have to work to stretch the muscles. I’ve also talked to patients after completing their [swallowing exercises] and they no longer have food sticking in their throat. They do work.

Targeted Oncology: What impact does prophylactic swallowing exercises have on patients?

Acton: Well, not everybody is compliant, so we tell them what the negative effects are of not doing the exercises. Some patients have to get a feeding tube because they are not maintaining hydration.

If you do the exercises, you can maintain good swallowing function and [function of the] muscles not only for swallowing. [They also help for] speech; some of the patients will have radiation and have very hoarse voices. I will have to counsel them on how to talk without straining. Their vocal chords become swollen during RT. We teach them how to talk gently so they don’t do further damage to the chords.

Targeted Oncology: How should specialists handle adherence to these exercises?

Acton: It is most important for patients to do the exercises when they least feel like doing them. We want you to take the mouthwash, do the exercises, and if I see the patients I explain to them that this is a very intensive treatment. This [radiation] treatment works, but if you don’t do the things I am going to ask you to do, you are going to have disability after the treatment is done and we want to prevent that.

You have to see the patient frequently. [Seeing] them during RT and after the treatment would be ideal, because patients get a lot of encouragement. I will explain to them that I have seen [other] patients and evaluated their swallowing, and [if it is] perfect and it is because they did the exercises. I also let them know that before we do the exercises, patients will have to increase the oral opening.

Targeted Oncology: Are there any other types of exercises in addition to prophylactic swallowing that are worth mentioning?

Acton: We start with the mouth opening. Today, we are seeing a different population of people versus in the late 80s—it was a lot of type A-personality men and they sometimes found that [these exercises] were hard and [thought that] it was going to be better. It was the complete opposite.

We watch them do the exercises to move the muscles in the neck. Even just a simple, hard swallow can be done every time they eat or drink something, gargling, extreme-yawn positions, and moving the back of the tongue.

The head and neck area is a very narrow area, so I do tailor the exercises to the patient and [explain to them] what they might expect. What can you do if you feel the food sticking in your throat? You can swallow hard; you can swallow twice. I do explain to them the specific things they should do if these things happen. Generally, for anyone who is having RT [in this area] you want them to be able to move their neck and swallow—the RT the beams hit various points.

Targeted Oncology: What are the main points you hope the community oncologists took away from your lecture and what does the future hold?

Acton: In the future, I hope that patients will be able to see these professionals more frequently. It is just important that we see these patients and that they are treated. These exercises are very easy to do; [patients should] not be afraid of doing them.

Reference:
Caglar HB, Tishler RB, Othus M, et al. Dose to larynx predicts for swallowing complications after intensity-modulated radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008;72(4):1110-1118. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.02.048.

European Commission approves Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) for squamous cell cancer of the head and neck in adults progressing on or after platinum-based therapy

Source: pipelinereview.com
Author: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company today announced that the European Commission (EC) has approved Opdivo (nivolumab) as monotherapy for the treatment of squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (SCCHN) in adults progressing on or after platinum-based therapy. Opdivo is the first and only Immuno-Oncology (I-O) treatment that demonstrated in a Phase 3 trial a significant improvement in overall survival (OS) for these patients.

“Adult patients with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck that progresses on or after platinum-based therapy are fighting a debilitating and hard-to-treat disease that is associated with a very poor prognosis,” said Kevin Harrington, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and a consultant clinical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London. “As an oncologist who helps patients deal with this terrible disease, I hope that nivolumab will now be made available as widely as possible, offering this group of patients a new treatment option that can potentially improve their overall survival.”

The approval was based on results from CheckMate -141, a global Phase 3, open-label, randomized trial, first published in The New England Journal of Medicine last October, which evaluated Opdivo versus investigator’s choice of therapy in patients aged 18 years and above with recurrent or metastatic, platinum-refractory SCCHN who had tumor progression during or within six months of receiving platinum-based therapy administered in the adjuvant, neo-adjuvant, primary or metastatic setting. Investigator’s choice of therapy included methotrexate, docetaxel, or cetuximab. The primary endpoint was OS. The trial’s secondary endpoints included progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rate (ORR).

“The European Commission’s approval of Opdivo marks not only the first new treatment option in 10 years for patients with advanced cancers of the head and neck, but also the first Immuno-Oncology treatment for SCCHN,” said Murdo Gordon, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Bristol-Myers Squibb remains committed to redefining survival for patients with cancer, and now that Opdivo is approved in Europe, we will work collaboratively with EU health authorities to ensure it is available for these patients as quickly as possible.”

In the interim analysis of the pivotal trial, Opdivo demonstrated statistically significant improvement in OS with a 30% reduction in the risk of death (HR=0.70 [95% CI: 0.53-0.92; p=0.0101]), and a median OS of 7.5 months (95% CI: 5.5-9.1) for Opdivo compared with 5.1 months (95% CI: 4.0-6.0) for the investigator’s choice arm. There were no statistically significant differences between the two arms for PFS (HR=0.89; 95% CI: 0.70, 1.13) or ORR (13.3% [95% CI: 9.3, 18.3] vs 5.8% [95% CI: 2.4, 11.6] for Opdivo and investigator’s choice, respectively. The EC approval was based on updated study results, which will be presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Patient reported outcomes (PROs) were evaluated using the following European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Assessment: EORTC QLQ-C30, EORTC QLQ-H&N35, and 3-level EQ-5D instruments. Patients treated with Opdivo exhibited stable PROs, while those assigned to investigator’s choice therapy exhibited significant declines in functioning (e.g., physical, role, social) and health status as well as increased symptomatology (e.g., fatigue, dyspnoea, appetite loss, pain and sensory problems).

The safety profile of Opdivo in CheckMate -141 was consistent with prior studies in patients with melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 49% of patients receiving Opdivo. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of patients receiving Opdivo were pneumonia, dyspnea, aspiration pneumonia, respiratory failure, respiratory tract infection, and sepsis.

About Head & Neck Cancer
Cancers that are known as head and neck cancers usually begin in the squamous cells that line the moist mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck, such as inside the mouth, the nose and the throat. Head and neck cancer is the seventh most common cancer globally, with an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 new cases per year and 223,000 to 300,000 deaths per year. The five-year survival rate is reported as less than 4% for metastatic Stage IV disease. Squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (SCCHN) accounts for approximately 90% of all head and neck cancers with global incidence expected to increase by 17% between 2012 and 2022. Risk factors for SCCHN include tobacco and alcohol consumption. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is also a risk factor leading to rapid increase in oropharyngeal SCCHN in Europe and North America.

About Opdivo
Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, Opdivo has become an important treatment option across multiple cancers.

Opdivo’s leading global development program is based on Bristol-Myers Squibb’s scientific expertise in the field of Immuno-Oncology and includes a broad range of clinical trials across all phases, including Phase 3, in a variety of tumor types. To date, the Opdivo clinical development program has enrolled more than 25,000 patients. The Opdivo trials have contributed to gaining a deeper understanding of the potential role of biomarkers in patient care, particularly regarding how patients may benefit from Opdivo across the continuum of PD-L1 expression. In July 2014, Opdivo was the first PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world. Opdivo is currently approved in more than 60 countries, including the United States, the European Union and Japan. In October 2015, the company’s Opdivo and Yervoy combination regimen was the first Immuno-Oncology combination to receive regulatory approval for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and is currently approved in more than 50 countries, including the United States and the European Union.

U. S. FDA approved indications for Opdivo
Opdivo® (nivolumab) as a single agent is indicated for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on progression-free survival. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) as a single agent is indicated for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 wild-type unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

Opdivo® (nivolumab), in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab), is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on progression-free survival. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy. Patients with EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations should have disease progression on FDA-approved therapy for these aberrations prior to receiving OPDIVO.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) who have received prior anti-angiogenic therapy.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) that has relapsed or progressed after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and post-transplantation brentuximab vedotin. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) with disease progression on or after platinum-based therapy.

Opdivo® (nivolumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

HPV vaccine; cancer prevention

Source: www.nujournal.com
Author: staff

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection, of several strains, most associated with cervical cancers. The virus is so common that nearly all males and females have been infected at some time in their life. One in four is currently infected in the nation.

Signs and symptoms of HPV are variable. Most will recover from the virus within two years without ever knowing they were infected, making HPV easy to spread. Occasionally, the virus lasts much longer in the body which can cause cells to change and lead to cancer. Fortunately, we have a vaccine to prevent cancer caused by HPV.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three vaccines for HPV; Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil 9. These vaccines are tested and proven to be safe and effective.

Prevention is important with HPV. The vaccine should be administered before exposure to the virus for stronger protection against cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and some mouth or throat cancers. (Gardasil and Gardasil 9 also prevent genital warts and anal cancer.) The best age to obtain maximum potential of the vaccine is at 11 or 12 years old. At this age, the body’s immune system is the most receptive to the vaccination’s virus-like particles and the body produces higher amounts of antibodies in defense, protecting the adolescent for his or her future. Both girls and boys should get the HPV vaccine. For ages 9-14, two doses – six to twelve months apart, are recommended. For 15-26 year olds, three doses are recommended. Side effects may include brief soreness, or redness or swelling at the injection site.

The HPV vaccine does prevent cancer, limiting biopsies and invasive procedures thus cutting potential health care costs. Most private insurance companies cover preventive vaccinations, it is best to call your carrier for more information. The HPV vaccine is covered by Minnesota Health Plans. Uninsured individuals may be eligible to get the vaccine at their local public health office.

Schedule your adolescent’s annual health exam today and ask which HPV vaccine is best for the child in your life.

“Every year in the United States, HPV causes 30,700 cancers in men and women. HPV vaccination can prevent most of the cancers (about 28,000) from occurring.” (CDC, December, 2016)

Learn more at www.cdc.gov/hpv or www.cancer.gov

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Beating HPV-positive throat cancer

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com
Author: Pamela Tom, Contributor

National Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week is April 12-18, 2017

For at least two years, 47 year-old Rob Clinton of Rochester, NY, would choke on post nasal drip in the shower. He knew something was wrong in his throat but he didn’t feel any pain.

Did he have cancer? Clinton smoked cigarettes for 30 years and worked in an auto body shop where he was regularly exposed to carcinogens, but he wasn’t experiencing the typical symptoms of throat cancer. These include hoarseness or a change in the voice, difficulty swallowing, a persistent sore throat, ear pain, a lump in the neck, cough, breathing problems, and unexplained weight loss.

In November 2015, Clinton went to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned. His dentist felt Clinton’s swollen neck and recommended that he visit a medical doctor. Clinton heeded the advice and sought the opinion of an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY.

The ENT doctor sent Clinton to have a CAT scan and when he scoped Clinton’s throat, the doctor said, “I see something in there.”

What he saw was a tumor and there were a few other things going on too.

The Diagnosis
The biopsy showed that Clinton had Stage IVa oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) at the base of his tongue—and the cancer was HPV positive. HPV stands for the human papillomavirus and a recent survey found that more than 42% of Americans are infected with HPV. While most people’s bodies naturally clear HPV after two years, some people’s immune systems do not recognize the virus and consequently, HPV can harbor in the body for decades. HPV-related throat cancer has been linked to oral sex.

The Treatment
On December 4, 2015, Clinton underwent neck dissection surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Hassan Arshad, a head and neck cancer surgeon, removed 30 lymph nodes; two had cancer and one tumor was the size of a golf ball. One lymph node on the other side of neck and a tongue tumor would be treated with radiation.

The first of 35 radiation treatments began one month later in conjunction with Cisplatin chemotherapy infusions. That’s seven weeks of simultaneous radiation and chemo.

“I drove myself to treatment for the first five weeks. Up until the last week of treatment, it wasn’t too terrible,” Clinton says. “But then I started getting tired and my mother took me to the cancer center.”

Clinton had decided not to get a feeding tube prior to or during treatment and as the radiation and chemo attacked his cancer, he began to lose weight. The treatment reduced Clinton’s appetite because foods began to taste different. For two weeks, he also felt a burning sensation in his mouth and says his saliva tasted like hot sauce.

“It was excruciating and the worst thing I dealt with during treatment.”

Furthermore when radiation makes the throat feel tender and raw, it becomes nearly impossible to eat normally through the mouth.

Clinton was 215 pounds before treatment. After treatment, he weighed in at a mere 165 pounds. A loss of 50 pounds. In hindsight, Clinton wishes he had the feeding tube inserted while he was still strong.

“Don’t be afraid of the treatment. It’s manageable and you can get through it. I recommend a feeding tube because it’s a comfort knowing you have an option,” says Clinton.

The Recovery
While it took a month for Clinton to recover from the initial surgery, doctors say it takes at least a year for HPV+ throat cancer patients to find their “new normal”—regaining strength, adapting to lingering side effects.

Following chemo, Clinton experienced “chemo brain” or “chemo fog,” known as a cognitive impairment that can occur after chemotherapy. The patient may experience memory loss or dysfunction, and have difficulty concentrating or multi-tasking.

The radiation also took its toll on Clinton. He researched and found a salve made of calendula flowers, olive oil, beeswax, and Vitamin E oil to soothe his parched skin. Trying to gain weight was a bigger challenge. First, his taste went “totally upside down” and spicy foods were intolerable.

“A vanilla cookie tasted like black pepper,” Clinton says. “Only frozen peas and parsley tasted normal.”

And dry mouth is a common result of the radiation treatment. While both sides of Clinton’s neck received radiation, he had less saliva production on his left side. At night he would have to wake up every 40 minutes to drink water. Clinton must make certain not to become dehydrated because it causes the dry mouth to worsen. Now he chews gum almost non-stop.

In his search to combat dry mouth, Clinton says he researched solutions online and found ALTENS, or acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A study led by Dr. Raimond Wong, an associate professor of oncology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found evidence that ALTENS may reduce patient-reported xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth.

Clinton joined Dr. Wong’s clinical trial to determine whether ALTENS for six weeks/four days a week would be as effective as treatment for 12 weeks/two times a week.

“Four days a week, the researchers put pads on the inside of my ankles, the outside of my knee, back of my hands, between my thumb and forefingers, and between my chin and bottom lip,” says Clinton.

Clinton says ALTENS felt like little shocks and the acupuncture-like stimulation improved his saliva production by 80 percent. “Even after I stopped ALTENS, my saliva kept improving,” says Clinton.

The Survivor
Two years after cancer treatment, regular PET scans show that Rob Clinton has no evidence of cancer. In fact, the prognosis for HPV-related throat cancer is 85 to 90 percent positive if caught early. In contrast, patients who battle advanced throat cancer caused by excessive smoking and alcohol have a five-year survival rate of 25 to 40 percent.

Dr. Arshad, Clinton’s surgeon at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, explained why.

“The majority of tonsil and tongue base (“throat”) cancers are HPV-positive, but smoking is still a major risk factor. Typically, non-smoking patients with HPV-positive tonsil/tongue base cancers present with a lump in the neck, implying that the cancer has already spread to lymph nodes. This used to mean that the patient would have a reduced chance of long-term survival,” Arshad says. “We now know that for nonsmokers who have HPV-positive cancers, metastasis to lymph nodes doesn’t carry the same poor prognosis. The newest staging system reflects that change, i.e. Some of those patients who were previously classified as stage IV are now at stage II if the cancer is HPV-positive.”

Clinton is not only faring well physically, surviving cancer changed his outlook and lifestyle.

“My life is pretty much back to normal. I get a little nervous each time I get a PET scan but so far, it shows I am free of cancer,” Clinton says. “I have a better appreciation of things. I live healthy in terms of diet and recreation. I don’t smoke or drink heavily.”

The Future of HPV+ Oropharyngeal Cancer
De-stigmatizing HPV is a key component to building public awareness and acceptance of HPV infection, and the ability to recognize the early symptoms of HPV-related throat cancer. As more and more people are diagnosed with HPV-related throat cancer, the social stigma surrounding the virus is a disturbing deterrent because HPV cancer patients are often reticent to disclose the HPV connection.

In a 2015 public service announcement, actor Michael Douglas who was treated HPV+ base of tongue cancer called for oral screenings but never said “HPV” by name. “A very common virus, one responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers is now identified as the cause of this rapid rise in oral cancers,” said Douglas.

In the early years of the AIDS crisis, people associated infection with illness, fear, and death. It took a decade to generate a movement and begin to change the public sentiment. Now after continual education, AIDS is accepted and the focus centers on hope instead of ostracization.

Clinton hopes more people will accept that HPV infection is common—the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the U.S., according to the CDC. The American Society of Clinical Oncologists also found that by 2020, the annual number of HPV-related oropharyngeal in nonsmoking, middle-aged men will surpass the number of cervical cancer cases.

“HPV is not a shameful thing. It’s very common. It’s just that some people can’t clear the virus from their bodies,” Clinton says. “This type of cancer is the next epidemic. I feel fortunate every day that I came through it as well as I did.”

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

More than 1 In 5 Americans have a potentially cancer-causing HPV infection

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com
Author: Erin Schumaker

More than 42 percent of adults in the United States are infected with human papillomavirus ― and nearly 23 percent are infected with a high-risk strand of the virus that can cause cancer, according to a report published by the National Center for Health Statistics on Thursday.

“We tend to overlook the fact that 20 percent of us are carrying the virus that can cause cancer (indluding oral cancer – OCF news editor),” Geraldine McQuillan, lead author of the report and an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Washington Post.

“People really need to realize that this is a serious concern.”

The report, which examined U.S. adults ages 18 to 59, marks the first time the CDC has recorded HPV rates in men as well as women. There is no FDA-approved HPV test for men, but the CDC developed its own test for the research. “We did penile swabs which we tested for HPV DNA,” McQuillan told The Huffington Post.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country, and nearly every sexually active American will be exposed to it by their early 20s. Although 90 percent of HPV infections clear the body within two years, that’s not always the case. High-risk strains are linked to cervix, vaginal, penile, anus and throat cancers, as well as genital warts.

In fact, two high-risk strains, HPV-16 and -18, cause nearly all cervical cancer cases.

Not all Americans have the same risk of contracting high-risk HPV. Asian-Americans had the lowest HPV rate (12 percent), followed by whites and Hispanics (22 percent). Black Americans had the highest HPV prevalence (34 percent), according to the report. Overall, men were more likely to have high-risk genital HPV than women.

The best defense against HPV is getting the HPV vaccine before being exposed to the virus. The CDC strongly recommends the HPV vaccine as a cancer-prevention method for boys and girls starting at age 11, before they are exposed to the virus through sex.

“I commonly hear parents thinking that it’s better to wait until their children are sexually active before immunizing,” Dr. Dean Blumberg, associate professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, previously told The Huffington Post.

“Younger children have a more robust immune response to HPV vaccine compared to older children and young adults,” Blumberg said. “Specifically, children 9 to 15 years of age develop higher antibody levels after the vaccine series compared to 16- to 26-year-olds.”

While there’s no treatment for HPV itself (just for some symptoms, such as genital warts), routine Pap smears can catch cancer caused by the virus in its early stages. People with HPV should also use a condom to avoid passing the disease to a partner.

The CDC recommends cervical cancer screening for women ages 21 and older. The FDA approved an HPV test for women in 2003, but only 39 percent of clinicians ordered the test during a study of five Michigan health clinics from January 2008 to April 2011.

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Eight updates in oral head and neck cancer

Source: www.healio.com
Author: staff

Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week — led by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliances and supported by the American Academy of Otolaryngology — raises awareness and promotes cancer screenings throughout the United States.

Approximately 110,000 people are diagnosed with oral head and neck cancers — which include cancers of the tongue, throat, voice box, nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, thyroid and salivary glands —each year in the United States.

“The best chance of effectively treating these cancers is early on in the disease, and that’s why identification of tumors in their earliest stage improves a patient’s likelihood of survival and the patient’s ability to speak and swallow normally after treatment,” Ilya Likhterov, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a press release from Mount Sinai. “While oral cancer is most commonly linked to long-time smokers and drinkers, younger patients can be affected even if they don’t have obvious risk factors. It is very important to have your mouth examined and pay attention to symptoms such as pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, or if you notice any wound or ulcer in the mouth that is not healing quickly.”

In conjunction with Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, HemOnc Today presents eight updates in oral head and neck cancer.

  • A combination of buparlisib (BKM120, Novartis) and paclitaxel may serve as an effective second-line therapy for patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Read more.
  • Nutrition plays a vital role during all phases of treatment for many cancer types, but it is particularly important for individuals with head and neck cancer, according to Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN, and Chelsey Wisotsky, MS, RD, CSO, CDN. Read more.
  • Roughly one in four men and one in five women in the United States have a high-risk form of HPV, according to CDC estimates. Read more.
  • Complete clinical response to induction chemotherapy may serve as a biomarker to identify patients with HPV–associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma who could benefit from radiation deintensification. Read more.
  • Patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma reported significant declines in the frequency of vaginal and oral sex after their diagnosis, regardless of tumor HPV status. Read more.
  • Adding cetuximab (Erbitux, Eli Lilly) to radiotherapy and cisplatin significantly improved PFS and OS in patients with KRAS-variant head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Read more.
  • The American Cancer Society endorsed the updated recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that support a two-dose schedule for boys and girls who initiate HPV vaccination from 9 to 14 years of age. Read more.
  • HPV is an increasingly important cause of oropharyngeal cancer not only among white men, but also among women and nonwhite individuals. HPV also causes a small proportion of nonoropharyngeal head and neck squamous cell cancer. Read more.
April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The scary reason doctors say kids need HPV vaccinations

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

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

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

That was four years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|