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The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer highlights immunotherapy during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

Source: www.prweb.com
Author: press release

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) recognizes Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 8-15, 2018, in an effort to highlight targeted immunotherapy to treat patients with these types of cancer.

To educate and guide patients, SITC provides informative and engaging online education dedicated to cancer immunotherapy through SITC Cancer Immunotherapy connectED. Two head and neck cancer-specific resources are available on SITC connectED:

Beyond Chemotherapy for Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer: Developed for patients with head and neck cancers and their care partners, the goal of this online class is to learn about treatment options for the newly diagnosed, treatment after chemotherapy, and questions to ask the patient’s healthcare team.

Understanding Cancer Immunotherapy Patient Resource Guide: This guide provides current, medically accurate information on cancer (including head and neck cancers) – intended for patients and caregivers to outline available cancer immunotherapy options, the role of the immune system in this type of cancer treatment and what to expect while undergoing treatment. (free registration required)

Aiming to make cancer immunotherapy a standard of care for cancer patients everywhere, these SITC connectED resources educate and guide patients on immunotherapy treatment options for head and neck cancer. For more information, visit the SITC website at sitcancer.org.

About SITC
Established in 1984, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) is a nonprofit organization of medical professionals dedicated to improving cancer patient outcomes by advancing the development, science and application of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. SITC is comprised of influential basic and translational scientists, practitioners, health care professionals, government leaders and industry professionals around the globe. Through educational initiatives that foster scientific exchange and collaboration among leaders in the field, SITC aims to one day make the word “cure” a reality for cancer patients everywhere. Learn more about SITC, our educational offerings and other resources at sitcancer.org and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

April, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Be your own advocate

Source: www.wvnews.com
Author: Mary McKinley

The importance of dental care goes beyond cavities — it’s also about preventing cancer. The week of April 8 is National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, and your dentist or dental hygienist may be your first line of defense against oral cancer.

More than 50,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and the tonsils) in 2018, and 350 will be diagnosed in West Virginia alone.

Routine dental exams can detect cancer or pre-cancers during the early stages. If you notice a persistent sore or pain, swelling or changes in your mouth, or red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth, visit a doctor or dentist so they can examine your mouth more closely.

Some people diagnosed with oral cancer have no risk factors, so it’s important for everyone to keep those dental appointments.

If you use tobacco, drink alcohol in excess, or have the human papillomavirus (HPV), you have an increased risk for oral cancer. Oral cancer is more common in older adults, particularly men, but oropharyngeal cancer is on the rise in middle-aged, nonsmoking white men between the ages of 35 and 55. The majority of these types of cancer cases are caused by HPV.

Take charge of your health and reduce your risk of oral cancer. If you smoke or chew tobacco, quit now (it’s never too late). Moderate your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day for women or two for men.

If you have children, make sure they receive the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11 and 12; a “catch-up” vaccine is also available for young women up to age 26 and most young men up to age 21.

You can be your own best advocate. Check the inside of your mouth in the mirror each month, and speak up to your dentist or dental hygienist if you notice any changes that concern you.

Ask about cancer screenings when making your dental appointments. And to learn more about cancer prevention, be sure to visit www.preventcancer.org.

April, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Source: www.prnewswire.com
Author: press release

April marks oral cancer awareness month, and this year the Academy of General Dentistry is calling on dentists and patients to increase dialogue and screenings to address the growing number of oral cancer cases.

Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year and of those diagnoses, roughly a fifth will result in death*. Oral cancer cases have increased in the past two decades, linked to the spread of oral HPV**.

“Oral cancer is often called the silent killer because it silently invades the body during early stages, and patients don’t notice symptoms until it is quite advanced,” said Manuel Cordero DDS, CPH, MAGD, president, Academy of General Dentistry. “Vaccination against HPV is the first line of defense for young people, but screenings are critical for the broader population. Most people don’t realize screenings are part of their six-month dental checkups, and that needs to change.”

In a 2017 survey, the Academy of General Dentistry found that only 25 percent of Americans view their dentist as an expert on oral cancer screenings – even though screenings are part of regular checkups.

“It’s time for patients and dentists to talk more openly about oral cancer, starting with screenings, as well as preventative measures like HPV vaccination and not using tobacco,” added Dr. Cordero.

For more information on oral cancer awareness, and to schedule a dental checkup with screening, visit: www.agd.org/agd-foundation/our-programs/oral-cancer-screenings.

* https://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/

April, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Accurately identifying aggressive head and neck cancers

Source: www.eurekalert.org
Author: press release

The Case Western Reserve-led research team will analyze computerized images of tissue samples for patterns which could become “biomarkers,” or predictors, for determining relative risk for recurrence in one particularly common type of head and neck cancers.

Those tumors, known as oropharyngeal cancers, occur primarily at the base of the tongue and in the tonsils.

Currently, however, oncologists tend to treat all of these tumors with the same aggressive level of therapy. This is the case even though many of the oropharyngeal tumors which are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) tend to have favorable outcome-regardless of treatment-while another subset of the tumors progress and metastasize, or spread.

“Right now, it’s a one-size-fits-all therapy for all of these patients with HPV head and neck cancers,” said Anant Madabhushi, MD, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering, founding director of the CCIPD at the Case School of Engineering and primary investigator in the new research.

“There are currently very few validated biomarkers and approaches that are accurate enough to be able to identify which of these cancers are more aggressive or which ones are less aggressive,” he said. “That has limited the ability of clinicians to even hold clinical trials to find out if they can de-escalate therapy for some of these patients-or who needs more aggressive therapy.”

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded a $3.15 million, five-year academic-industry partnership grant to Madabhushi and his team to pursue the research and build toward establishing those clinical trials.

Co-primary investigator on the grant is Vanderbilt University’s James Lewis Jr., MD, whose specialty is head and neck pathology, while Cleveland Clinic’s Shlomo Koyfman, MD, and David Adelstein, MD, are co-investigators with expertise in radiation and medical oncology.

Additionally, Pingfu Fu, an associate professor of population and quantitative health statistics at Case Western Reserve, brings expertise in biostatistics. Cheng Lu, a senior research associate in CCIPD is also involved with the project.

Madabhushi’s team is again working with Mark Lloyd, MD, of industry partner Inspirata Inc., the Florida-based company also teaming up with the lab on studies of breast and lung cancer-work supported by more than $6.3 million in NCI funding.

The team presented its data at the 2018 United States and Canadian Association of Pathology (USCAP) meeting in Vancouver this month and has generated data to suggest that the approach could soon become a clinically actionable tool.

Initial results on almost 400 oropharyngeal cancer patients suggests that the technology is independently prognostic of disease progression-meaning that it could stand alone in helping clinicians figure out how aggressive the disease is and then make a more informed decision on how aggressively to treat the cancer.

“In those cancers, they’ve established whether you can modulate your therapy based on the risk profile for those tumors,” Madabhushi said. “But in head and neck, clinicians might have a sense that there are different risk profiles for different patients, but nobody knows for certain. We want to change that by giving them the risk stratification tools to better help the patient.”

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

A better understanding of how genetics influences responses to mouth cancer drugs could lead to improved treatment

Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

A single letter DNA mutation is a big determinant of whether patients with advanced oral cancer respond to treatments. Researchers from the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and A*STAR who uncovered the mechanisms behind this effect hope their findings will help doctors target treatment more effectively.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of thin, scale-like squamous cells in the outer layer of the mouth. Only around 50 per cent of patients who are treated through surgery or radiotherapy are cured, and the average duration of survival of those with advanced OSCC that recurs following treatment is just 6 to 9 months.

Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) play important roles in driving the progression of some OSCCs. Drugs that target them, however, only work in a small number of patients.

A 2012 clinical trial led by Daniel Tan at NCCS and A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore had found that the EGFR-blocking drug gefitinib worked well in two patients with two copies of the EGFR coding gene with an adenine (A) nucleobase in place of the more common guanine (G) at a particular location.

More recently, tests by Gopal Iyer, also at NCCS, and Tan showed that OSCC patient-derived cells with the above A/A genotype were sensitive to gefitinib and erlotinib, another EGFR blocker. Those with the G/G or G/A variants exhibited resistance to the drugs.

Editing the DNA of the G/G genotype cells to become G/A at the same location increased their sensitivity to the drugs 70-fold. “We were pretty surprised it had such a dramatic effect,” says Iyer.

The genetic mutation occurs in a section of DNA that modulates the stability of a long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) known as EGFR-AS1. Gene expression tests showed that levels of this lncRNA were significantly higher in G/G genotype cells than in A/A cells.

When cells with the G/G genotype were exposed to small interfering RNAs that reduced their production of EGFR-AS1, their sensitivity to EGFR-blocking drugs increased significantly.

They also found that the tumors of seven patients with the A/A genotype shrank following treatment with EGFR-inhibiting drugs.

While the mechanism underlying this effect is not fully understood, the group has demonstrated that cells of the G/A and A/A genotypes produced higher ratios of one of four variants of EGFR relative to another, and that EFGR-AS1 helps mediate this difference.

Iyer said that new RNA-interference therapies could be developed to target cancers dependent on EGFR signaling. The group is conducting a larger human trial to better understand the biomarkers that could provide for improved targeting of existing treatments.

Source:
Daniel S W Tan et al. Long noncoding RNA EGFR-AS1 mediates epidermal growth factor receptor addiction and modulates treatment response in squamous cell carcinoma, Nature Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nm.4401

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Management strategies for oral potentially malignant disorders

Source: www.medscape.com
Author: Joel M. Laudenbach, DMD

Oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMDs) include oral leukoplakia (OL), oral erythroplakia, oral submucous fibrosis, oral lichen planus, proliferative verrucous leukoplakia, and actinic keratosis. Once an OPMD has been clinically diagnosed, execution of management strategy is critical. When formulating the strategy, healthcare providers should consider histopathology, lesion characteristics (ie, surface texture, unifocal, multifocal), lesion location in the mouth (ie, tongue, floor of mouth), patient risk factor assessment, and a detailed medical/cancer history.

In this newly published article, Nadeau and Kerr[1] detail various parameters surrounding evaluation and management of OPMDs. The authors make it clear that OPMDs are challenging, each with their own nuances regarding risk for malignant transformation. For example, when OL is unifocal, nonhomogeneous, nodular, or verrucous, there is a much higher chance of the OL becoming dysplastic (12.63-fold) or demonstrating a focus of carcinoma (8.9-fold) when compared with homogeneous types of OLs.[1]

Provider knowledge of these variables is critical when counseling patients about their diagnosis and management options and when selecting interventions along with follow-up care. Although progression to malignancy is difficult to predict with OPMDs, clinicians can account for multiple risk factors such as smoking/alcohol status, high-risk location in the oral cavity, and size of lesion (>200 mm2) to help formulate a tailored management plan for each patient. Consultation with an oral pathologist to discuss the histologic appearance in the context of specific patient history and lesion characteristics can provide additional perspective and/or recommendations.

Modifiable oral cavity cancer risks related to tobacco and heavy alcohol use should be communicated to patients with OPMDs so that they are able to make changes that may lead to regression/disappearance of certain lesions such as OL. Providers confronted with patients who use tobacco and/or heavy alcohol can integrate recommendations for cessation of tobacco[2] and alcohol[3] because they are both established, independent, causative agents for oral cavity cancer and OPMDs.

Available treatment strategies for OPMDs include surgical removal/ablation, photodynamic therapy, and surveillance. The authors make a clear point with supportive studies that traditional surgical excision of dysplastic OPMDs may decrease malignant transformation (MT) risk, yet it does not fully eliminate that risk and, in some instances, has not changed the MT risk when compared with surveillance alone. Appropriate surgical margin identification for OPMDs is clinically challenging. The authors note that smaller excisional margin sizes (1-2 mm) without marginal histologic assessment are common surgical management goals for OPMDs.[1]

Viewpoint
Nadeau and Kerr carefully outline updated considerations for all OPMDs. Healthcare providers involved in screening, diagnosing, referring, and/or managing patients with OPMDs should be well versed in standards of care, including baseline biopsy goals, tobacco/alcohol cessation, currently available interventions, and surveillance care.

Clinicians should also develop a local team of practitioners who are experts in diagnosis and management of OPMDs to help patients obtain the best opportunity for positive outcomes. I encourage readers with interest to retrieve and review the full article by Nadeau and Kerr as a strategy to update your knowledge base and to continue to improve overall morbidity, mortality, and survival rates related to OPMDs.

References:
1. Nadeau C, Kerr AR. Evaluation and management of oral potentially malignant disorders. Dent Clin North Am. 2018;62:1-27.

2. US Preventive Services Task Force. Final recommendation statement. Tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women: behavioral and pharmacotherapy interventions. September 2015. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/tobacco-use-in-adults-and-pregnant-women-counseling-and-interventions1 Accessed March 1, 2018.

3. US Preventive Services Task Force. Final recommendation statement. Alcohol misuse: screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care. May 2013. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document
/RecommendationStatementFinal/alcohol-misuse-screening-and-behavioral-counseling-interventions-in-primary-care Accessed March 1, 2018.

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Experts reveal why men are four times more likely to get cancer from oral sex than women

Source: www.thesun.co.uk
Author: Sofia Petkar

Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer, as studies suggest a lower immune system could be behind this. Research has found men who perform oral sex on their female partners have a higher than average chance of developing an oral cancer triggered by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

While sexual norms and fewer inhibitions have played a role in this alarming trend, scientists now say the male immune system is the real problem. Research has found that compared with women, men are more likely to be infected with HPV and its “high-risk” cancerous strains. Men are also less able to get rid of the infection through the body’s natural defences, harbouring the virus for longer periods of time.

Ashish A. Deshmukh, a University of Florida HPV researcher, said: “There is good evidence that men acquire oral infections more readily than women, even if they have similar sex practices.

“And more than the acquisition, it’s the persistence of the virus.

“The clearance rate is not that fast in men.”

Traditionally, smoking and heavy alcohol usage were seen as the big risk factors for oral cancer. However, studies have shown that non-HPV tumours linked to these bad habits has declined significantly in recent years. In stark contrast, HPV-related tumours have increased more than 300 per cent over the last 20 years, with the virus now found in 70 per cent of all new oral cancers.

In 2013, Michael Douglas hit the headlines when he blamed his throat cancer on oral sex. The 72-year-old actor said he believed his cancer was triggered by the HPV virus, which he says he contracted after performing oral sex.

While many ridiculed his theory, experts say there is growing evidence to support his claims. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted disease which affects at least half of people who are sexually active. The STD is the most widespread worldwide and four out of five of the population will contract some form of the virus at least once in their life.

The types of HPV found in the mouth are almost entirely sexually transmitted, so oral sex is seen as the primary route of contracting them. In most cases, the body’s immune system will fight off the virus and there won’t be any need for further tests, in fact, some people may not even know they contracted it at all.

The HPV infection affects the skin and mucosa (any moist membrane, such as the lining of the mouth and throat, the cervix and the anus).

Dentists have warned that dating apps such as Tinder are putting more people at risk of catching HPV passed on by oral sex. The British Dental Association said: “Data used to model sexual behaviour are out of date, and factors such as the recent introduction of dating apps may have led to significant changes in behaviour over the last few years, which have not been taken into account.”

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Non-smokers with oral precancerous lesions at increased risk of cancer

Source: www.eurekalert.org
Author: press release

Precancerous lesions in the mouths of non-smokers are more likely to progress to cancer than those in smokers, new research from the University of British Columbia has found.

Although tobacco use is still one of the strongest risk factors associated with mouth cancers, UBC dentistry PhD candidate Leigha Rock found that oral precancerous lesions in non-smokers are more than twice as likely to progress to cancer. Furthermore, lesions in non-smokers progressed to cancer faster than smoking-associated lesions. The study was published this week in Oral Oncology.

“This is the first published study where the main focus was to examine the difference in risk of progression to oral cancer between non-smokers and smokers with oral precancerous lesions,” said Rock, lead author of the study. “While other studies have also reported a higher rate of transformation among non-smokers, we looked at multiple risk factors including genetic markers.”

Rock and colleagues looked at case history of 445 patients with oral epithelial dysplasia (OED), a type of precancerous oral lesion, enrolled in the B.C. Oral Cancer Prediction Longitudinal study. One-third of the patients were non-smokers.

“As smoking rates decline, we are seeing an increase in the proportion of these types of lesions in non-smokers,” said Rock.

Among the scientists’ findings were that lesions on the floor of the mouth in non-smokers were 38 times more likely to progress to cancer than in smokers. The study is also the first to report on quicker progression to cancer in non-smokers: both three-year and five-year rates of progression were seven per cent and 6.5 per cent higher than smokers, respectively.

The researchers suggest that the marked difference in outcomes is due to a difference in the root causes of the lesions. In smokers, the OED is likely the result of environmental factors, whereas in non-smokers, genetic susceptibility or mutations are likely to blame.

“Our findings show that molecular genomic markers can identify high risk lesions, regardless of risky habits like smoking, and should be an important consideration in patient management,” said Rock.

The study’s results stress the importance of taking oral lesions seriously, especially when they occur in non-smokers: “If you see a lesion in a smoker, be worried. If you see a lesion in a non-smoker, be very worried. Don’t assume it can’t be cancer because they’re a non-smoker; our research indicates non-smokers may be at higher risk.”

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

HPV is causing an oral cancer epidemic in men by outwitting natural defenses

Source: www.philly.com
Author: Marie McCullough, staff writer

Five years ago, when actor Michael Douglas candidly revealed that his throat cancer was linked to having oral sex, two things happened.

He made headlines that mortified his family. And he helped publicize the fact that a pervasive, sexually transmitted virus called HPV was unleashing an epidemic of oral cancer among men.

Since then, scientists have made headway in figuring out why HPV, the human papillomavirus, has this glaring gender bias. Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer, a hard-to-detect, hard-to-treat disease that has overtaken cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related malignancy in the United States.

To be sure, changes in sexual norms over the last few generations have played a role in this alarming trend. But research increasingly shows the real problem is something men have practically no control over: their immune response.

Compared with women, men are more likely to get infected with HPV — including “high-risk” cancer-causing strains. They also are less able to wipe out infection on their own, and more likely to get reinfected. The reasons are unclear.

“There is good evidence that men acquire oral infections more readily than women, even if they have similar sex practices,” said Ashish A. Deshmukh, a University of Florida HPV researcher. “And more than the acquisition, it’s the persistence of the virus. The clearance rate is not that fast in men.”

Michael Becker of Yardley has stepped up as the face of this immunological inequity. The 49-year-old former biotech executive is health-conscious, clean-living, happily married for 26 years – and battling terminal oropharyngeal cancer, the medical term for malignancies in parts of the mouth and throat.

He’s also battling the misconceptions and ignorance that keep too many parents from protecting their pubescent children — especially boys — against HPV-driven cancers. Two shots. That’s all it takes for the leading vaccine, Gardasil, to prevent most cervical cancers, less common genital malignancies, and the disease that is killing Becker.

“I can’t tell you how many emails I got from parents after the CBS segment,” he said, referring to a national television interview last month. “They said, ‘What do you mean this vaccine is for boys?’ and ‘What do you mean oral cancer incidence has eclipsed cervical cancer?’ ”

An inescapable virus
HPV is a family of more than 100 virus types that can live in the flat, thin cells on the surface of the skin, cervix, vagina, anus, vulva, penis, mouth, and throat. The virus is spread through contact with infected skin, mucous membranes, and bodily fluids. Some types can be passed during intercourse or — as Douglas pointed out — oral sex. While virtually all sexually active people will get infected at some point, the virus is usually wiped out by the immune system without so much as a symptom.

But not always.

In the cervix, persistent infection with high-risk HPV types can lead to precancerous changes that, left alone, slowly turn malignant. Fortunately, the Pap smear enables the detection and removal of abnormal cells before cancer develops. What’s more, age-related changes in cervical cells reduce the risk that HPV will take hold there as women get older.

No such screening test exists for oropharyngeal sites – the tongue, soft palate, tonsils, the throat behind the nasal cavity – and symptoms usually don’t appear until cancer is advanced. Becker, for example, had metastatic disease by the time he noticed a lump under his jaw line in late 2015.

Traditionally, smoking and heavy alcohol use are the big risk factors for oral cancer, but the non-HPV tumors linked to these bad habits have been declining in recent years. HPV-related tumors, in contrast, have increased more than 300 percent over the last 20 years. The virus is now found in 70 percent of all new oral cancers.

About 13,200 new HPV oral cancers are diagnosed in U.S. men each year, compared with 3,200 in women, according to federal data. Treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation — can have disfiguring, disabling side effects. About half of late-stage patients die within five years.

Natural defenses go awry
Oral HPV infection rates are skewed by gender, just like the resulting cancers. The latest national estimates of this disparity, published in October, come from Deshmukh and his University of Florida colleagues. They used a federal health survey that collected DNA specimens to estimate that 7.3 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women have oral infections with high-risk HPV types. That translates to 7 million men and 1.4 million women.

The chance of oral infection increases for women as well as men who have simultaneous genital HPV infections or a history of many sex partners, but male infection rates still far surpass female rates.

Patti Gravitt, an HPV researcher at George Washington University, believes these estimates are a bit oversimplified because women counted as uninfected may actually have undetectably low virus levels, or HPV may be hiding in a dormant state in their cells.

Still, Gravitt said the study is in line with others that suggest “men are more susceptible to HPV viral infection than women.”

In women, an HPV infection usually sets off the body’s defense mechanisms. The immune system makes antibodies that kill off the invader, then immune cells remain on guard, ready to attack if the virus reappears.

But in men, something goes awry. The HIM study — for HPV in Men — documented this by collecting genital, anal, and oral samples from 4,100 unvaccinated men in Florida, Mexico and Brazil between 2005 and 2009. The samples were tested for the presence of two high-risk HPV types and two that cause genital warts.

Among 384 men who developed infections during a 24-month period, only 8 percent produced antibodies. But this response rate varied depending on the site of infection; none of the small number of orally infected men produced antibodies.

Rather than putting the immune system on guard and protecting men from the virus, infection sharply increased the chance of getting infected again with the exact same HPV type. And many men who got reinfected were celibate at the time.

How could this be? Anna R. Giuliano, the researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., who led the HIM study, said recurring infections may be due to reactivation of dormant virus, or to auto-inoculation – the man spreads infection from one part of his body to another. Or to something else entirely.

While the scientific understanding of this puzzle is evolving, one implication is clear. “HPV vaccination is the only reliable method to ensure immune protection against new HPV infections and subsequent disease in males,” Giuliano and her co-authors declared in a recent paper.

Becker hammers that message – when he is not being hammered by chemotherapy – using his self-published memoir and his blog. This week’s blog gave a shout-out to Sunday’s first-ever International HPV Awareness Day, declared by Giuliano and other members of the International Papillomavirus Society.

Becker realizes that the novelty of the vaccine, the complexity of HPV, and its link to sex are obstacles to immunization. But he focuses on the life-saving aspect.

“Parents are being asked to vaccinate their 11-year-old child and they can’t imagine 30 or 40 years down the line, it will prevent cancer,” Becker said. “If you don’t know it’s connected to six cancers, you’re not going to care. So it really should be cast as an anti-cancer vaccine.”

March, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

HHC study supports web-based care plans for head, neck cancer patients

Source: www.hartfordbusiness.com
Author: John Stearns

A joint study by the Hartford HealthCare (HHC) Cancer Institute and the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center has demonstrated benefits of a web-based care plan for patients with head and neck cancer as a tool to better cope with side effects of treatment.

A web-based tool to help patients with head and neck cancer better deal with effects of their cancer treatment has proved beneficial to patients and doctors, according to a HHC doctor involved in developing the tool and studying its effectiveness.

“The compelling reason to do this work is because head and neck cancer has changed,” said Dr. Andrew Salner, medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital, HHC’s lead doctor on the joint study with MSK.

Head and neck cancer, once mostly associated with heavy drinkers and smokers who had other chronic diseases, is showing up more in younger and healthier patients, he said. That’s because of the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), now the leading cause of the cancers that often target the tonsils and back of the tongue.

HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. HPV is equally divided among males and females, the latter who’ve been getting vaccinated against HPV to prevent cervical cancer, but oral cancers are happening more prevalently and are appearing in males and females, Salner said. As such, boys and girls are now recommended for the vaccine before they become sexually active to hopefully prevent future disease, he said.

Immunization rates were 38 percent for boys and 50 percent for girls in 2016, Salner said.

Most people with HPV will not develop cancer, according to HHC, but for those who do, treatment outcomes are good, but the effects of head and neck cancer treatment can cause difficulty with taste and swallowing, dental problems, jawbone injury, underactive thyroid and other issues, Salner said.

The study of 43 head and neck cancer patients in Hartford and New York tracked the benefit of a web-based care plan tailored to their specific cancer, treatment and side effects. Historically, so-called survivorship care plans were fairly generic in addressing issues patients might or might not encounter, Salner said.

“This study was unique because it personalized the side effects for the tumor site and the treatment for each patient,” Salner said. It offers specific effects to watch for, some of which may not show up for years after treatment, ways to help prevent problems, cope with treatment side effects and timelines for follow-up medical screenings.

“The patients really appreciated all components of the care plan,” which also included a 60- to 90-minute meeting to review with medical staff.

HHC and MSK are talking with the National Cancer Institute to do a much wider study of the care plan, Salner said. He also wants to examine how to scale up the plan for larger populations and integrate it into patients’ medical records.

Salner and Dr. David Pfister, chief of head and neck oncology services at the MSK Cancer Center, will discuss the study and link between HPV and head and neck cancer in a talk this afternoon, from 4 to 5, at the Hartford Hospital Wellness Center at Blue Back Square, West Hartford.

February, 2018|Oral Cancer News|