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

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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.”

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April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Close to Half of American Adults Infected With HPV, Survey Finds

Source: www.nytimes.com
Author: Nicholas Bakalar
Date: 04/06/2017

More than 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 are infected with genital human papillomavirus, according to the first survey to look at the prevalence of the virus in the adult population.

The report, published on Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, also found that certain high-risk strains of the virus infected 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women. These strains account for approximately 31,000 cases of cancer each year, other studies have shown.

Two vaccines are effective in preventing sexually transmitted HPV infection, and researchers said the new data lend urgency to the drive to have adolescents vaccinated.

“If we can get 11- and 12-year-olds to get the vaccine, we’ll make some progress,” said Geraldine McQuillan, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and lead author of the new report.

“You need to give it before kids become sexually active, before they get infected,” Dr. McQuillan said. “By the time they’re in their mid-20s, people are infected and it’s too late. This is a vaccine against cancer — that’s the message.”

She and her colleagues also found that 7.3 percent of Americans ages 18 to 69 were infected orally with vHPV, and 4 percent were infected with the high-risk strains that can cause cancers of the mouth and pharynx.

HPV is a ubiquitous virus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. About 40 strains of the virus are sexually transmitted, and virtually all sexually active individuals are exposed to it by their early 20s.

The virus usually is spread through direct contact with infected genital skin or mucuous membranes during intercourse or oral sex. Over 90 percent of HPV infections are cleared by the body within two years. The figures released today were a snapshot of the prevalence of active oral HPV infection from 2011 through 2014, and active genital infection in 2013 and 2014.

Sometimes, the virus persists in the body. Chronic infections with certain strains can lead to genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vagina, penis, anus and throat. Two viral strains, HPV-16 and -18, cause almost all cervical cancers.

“One of the most striking things that we really want people to know is that high-risk HPV is common — common in the general population,” Dr. McQuillan said.

Get the best of Well, with the latest on health, fitness and nutrition, plus exclusive commentary by Tara Parker-Pope, delivered to your inbox every week.

While the C.D.C. recommends routine screening for cervical cancer for all women ages 21 to 65, adults are not routinely screened for HPV infection itself. Indeed, there is no HPV test for men at all. (A test for women is sometimes used in conjunction with a Pap screen for cervical cancer.)

There were significant differences in rates of high-risk genital HPV infection by race and ethnicity, Dr. McQuillan and her colleagues found.

The highest rate, 33.7 percent, was found among non-Hispanic blacks; the lowest, 11.9 percent, among Asians. The prevalence of genital HPV infection was 21.6 percent among whites and 21.7 percent among Hispanics.

Men generally have somewhat higher rates than women, but among Asian and Hispanic men, the infections are not significantly more common. The reasons for these variations are not known.

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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.

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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.
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April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Unmasked, Cancer Survivors Face The Symbol Of Their Torture

Source: www.npr.org
Date: 09/28/2014
Author: Emily Siner

 

Every 15 minutes, for 10 hours a day, another patient walks into the radiation room at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville. Each picks up a plastic mesh mask, walks to a machine, and lies down on the table underneath.

Nurses fit the mask over the patient’s face and shoulders. And then they snap it down.

“It was awful,” says Barbara Blades, who was diagnosed with cancer in her lymph nodes and tongue nine years ago. “It was awful to have your head bolted to a table. Not being able to move. Not being able to move your head.”

“I can remember lying there, thinking that I’m glad I’m not claustrophobic,” says Oscar Simmons, who had cancer in his tonsils.

“I sort of fibbed to myself,” says Bob Mead, who was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in 2011. “I thought, if I had to, I could sit up and pull the mask off.”

Mead later realized he couldn’t have pulled up his mask. It’s designed to restrain his head so that the radiation targets the exact same spots — down to the millimeter — across several weeks.

The mask is made out of a kind of white plastic mesh that forms to a patient’s face. It’s see-through, but it looks almost human, like a ghostly person frozen in place.

Other survivors, like Steve Travis, who had tumors on his throat and neck and went through several weeks of radiation, say it felt comforting under the mask.

But when he finished treatment, Travis says, just thinking about the mask made him angry.

“Because it sort of represented everything that had happened for the last four months,” he says. “So I destroyed it.”

Cancer patient Troy Creasey lies under a radiation machine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Radiation therapists snap the mask to the table to keep his head in place.

Emily Siner /NPR

Travis took it out to a family farm in West Tennessee and set it up next to a tree. He shot at it with two magazines from a .45 automatic — and then, for good measure, he burned it.

“I kept it for the longest time, and it just sat there,” says Barbara Blades, the woman with tongue cancer. “I couldn’t bring it myself to throw it away, because I had radiation five days a week for seven weeks. It was a part of me for that amount of time.”

Blades ended up keeping the radiation mask in her garage. She finally threw it out after it was damaged during a flood four years ago.

But Bob Mead, who had salivary gland cancer, held onto his mask with a sense of pride.

“It’s shaped like me. It fits me,” Mead says. “It’s like a favorite pair of jeans. People might not think of a mask that fondly, but there’s a familiarity to it. But the mask is actually part of me, and it’s that badge of honor that I have survived what is believed to have killed my cancer.”

Oscar Simmons, who had tonsil cancer, gave it to an artist who turned the mask into a sculpture of a mountain with a landscape around it as part of a project called Courage Unmasked, which has turned dozens of masks from survivors into art.

“Its goal is to restrain, and they’re going to expand,” Simmons says. “And so, it’s a thing of contrasts, I guess.”

As for Mead’s mask — he still hasn’t decided what to do with it.

“Mine’s actually sitting on my sun porch, on my shelf,” he says.

Every once in a while, he says he’ll pick it up and put it on his face. It still fits. And that’s OK, he says, because now, he’s free to take it off.

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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?

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April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

HPV Vaccine Could Protect More People With Fewer Doses, Doctors Insist

Source: www.npr.org
Date: March 29, 2017
Author: Michelle Andrews

You’d think that a vaccine that protects people against more than a half dozen types of cancer would have patients lining up to get it. But the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent roughly 90 percent of all cervical cancers as well as other cancers and sexually transmitted infections caused by the virus, has faced an uphill climb since its introduction more than a decade ago.

Now, with a dosing schedule that requires fewer shots of a more effective vaccine, a leading oncology group has joined other clinicians and public health advocates who are pushing hard to prevent these virus-related cancers.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended reducing the number of HPV vaccine shots from three to two for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14.

This month, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists also urged physicians in the U.S. and abroad to use the vaccine to help provide protection against cervical cancer.

The CDC recommendation was based, in part, on clinical trial data that showed two doses were just as effective as a three-dose regimen for this age group. (Young people older than 14 still require three shots.)

The clinical trial was conducted using Gardasil 9, a version of the vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2014. It protects against nine types of HPV, seven that are responsible for 90 percent of cervical cancers and two that account for 90 percent of genital warts.

In addition, the improved version of Gardasil increases protection against HPV-related cancers in the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum and oropharynx, which is the tongue and tonsil area at the back of the throat.

An earlier version of the vaccine protected against four types of HPV.

From the start, clinicians have run into some parental and political roadblocks because the vaccine, which is recommended for preteens, protects against genital human papillomavirus, a virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. Many physicians are reluctant about discussing the need for the vaccine, and for many parents, the vaccine’s cancer-prevention benefits have been overshadowed by concerns about discussing sexual matters with young kids.

Yet, for maximum protection, the immunizations should be given before girls and boys become sexually active.

The focus should not have been on sexually transmitted infections, some say. “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” said Dr. H. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases.

“This vaccine should have been introduced as a vaccine that will prevent cancer, not sexually transmitted infections,” Meissner says.

The HPV virus is incredibly common. At any given time, nearly 80 million Americans are infected, and most people can expect to contract HPV at some point in their lives. Most never know they’ve been infected and have no symptoms. Some people develop genital warts, but the infection generally goes away on its own.

However, others may develop problems years later. There are approximately 39,000 HPV-related cancers every year in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of them in women. In addition to cervical cancer, more than 90 percent of anal cancers and 70 percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers are thought to be caused by the HPV virus. Recent studies show that about 70 percent of cancers in the back of the throat, tongue and tonsils may also be linked to HPV.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimated that earlier versions of the HPV vaccine could reduce the number of HPV-related cancers by nearly 25,000 annually.

The new vaccine is estimated to prevent 5,000 cancer deaths annually, according to Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

But compliance is an ongoing problem. “They’re not getting the one vaccine that protects against diseases from which they’re most likely to suffer and die,” Offit said, noting that deaths from pertussis and meningococcal disease, for which adolescents are also vaccinated at that age, are minuscule compared with HPV-related cancers.

In 2015, 87 percent of 13-year-olds were up-to-date with the Tdap vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and 80 percent had received the meningococcal vaccine, according to the CDC. But just 30 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys at that age had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine. In contrast to other vaccines, however, the HPV vaccine is only required in a few states for secondary school students.

Public health advocates say they think the shift to a two-dose regimen could make a big difference for parents, as well as kids.

Because the second HPV shot is supposed to be given anywhere from six months to a year after the first one, “parents can fit it into a routine regimen when people go in for their 12-year-old’s regularly scheduled visit,” said Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., chairman of pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport, La. He’s also president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

 

“This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.”

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March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Immunotherapy Making Its Mark on Head and Neck Cancer

Author: Lisa Miller
Published online: 03/22/2017
Source: http://www.targetedonc.com/

Following the approval of 2 immunotherapy agents, pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) over the last 6 months, immunotherapy is making its mark on the treatment paradigm for HNC.

Due to the responses seen with these 2 agents, immunotherapies are being investigated further in the treatment of HNC.

“Immunotherapy is a very potent treatment for some patients. In a way it shows you that we’re probably just scratching the surface with [immunotherapy treatment for HNC],” Tanguy Seiwert, MD, said during a presentation at the 1st Annual International Congress on Immunotherapies in CancerTM, hosted by the Physicians’ Education Resource (PER).

Findings from the KEYNOTE-012 trial led to the approval of pembrolizumab in patients with recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The overall response rate was 18% with only 1 patient experiencing a complete response.1 However, about 50% of patients, both HPV-positive and HPV-negative, experienced a decrease in their target lesions.

“I would like to point out that response is a terrible, terrible outcome measure for immunotherapy. In the end, what we really care about with immunotherapy is overall survival [OS],” commented Seiwert, associate program director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program, and assistant professor of medicine, The University of Chicago Medicine. “Many patients have prolonged stable disease and that likely contributes signicantly to the strong OS signal that we oftentimes see.”

The phase III CheckMate 141 trial, which Seiwert said was “arguably the most important study in the field,” showed a difference in OS that is more revealing of outcome measures in immunotherapy. CheckMate 141 investigated nivolumab monotherapy in the second-line setting versus investigator’s choice of chemotherapy in patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC and demonstrated a median OS of 7.5 (95% CI, 5.5-9.1) versus 5.1 months (95% CI, 4.0-6.0) with standard therapy (P = .0101).2 The 1-year OS rate was 36% with nivolumab versus 16.6% with standard therapy. Alternatively, the response rate was 13.3% with nivolumab compared with 5.8% in the standard therapy arm.

“The response rate wasn’t that impressive, but the overall survival data are stunning. And that’s again an example of how wonderfully these drugs work,” Seiwert said.

Following the responses seen in these 2 studies of PD-1 inhibitors, immunotherapy agents are being considered in the frontline, including in combination regimens, which Seiwert believes are promising. One such combination is durvalumab (MEDI4736), a PD-L1 inhibitor, and tremelimumab, an anti–CTLA-4 agent, which was compared against durvalumab or the EXTREME trial regimen of cetuximab (Erbitux) and platinum-based chemotherapy in the phase III KESTREL trial.

Other first-line combination studies of interest in HNC include the KEYNOTE-048 study, which is looking at pembrolizumab and chemotherapy versus pembrolizumab monotherapy or the EXTREME regimen (NCT02358031); the CheckMate 651 study of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab versus EXTREME (NCT02741570); and the CheckMate 714 study exploring ipilimumab and nivolumab versus nivolumab as a single agent (NCT02823574).

Preliminary results looking at the combination of lirilumab, an anti-KIR agent, and nivolumab in a phase I/II study were presented at the 2016 SITC Annual Meeting. The combination showed an objective response rate (ORR) of 24.1% versus an ORR of 13.3% seen with nivolumab monotherapy in the CheckMate 141 trial.2,3 The OS at 1 year was 60% with the combination compared with 36% for nivolumab monotherapy. Among patients with PD-L1 expression in the tumor cells of ≥50%, the ORR was 57.1% with lirilumab and nivolumab versus 36.8% with nivolumab alone. Seiwert hypothesized that KIR was among a number of targets, also including CTLA-4, IDO, and OX40, that are more active in hot tumors.

In discussing which patients should receive immunotherapy treatment, Seiwert looked to various biomarkers currently under investigation for their predictive or prognostic association to immu- notherapy response. The KEYNOTE-024 trial looking at pembrolizumab versus chemotherapy in patients with non–small cell lung cancer changed the eld of PD-L1 testing, according to Seiwert. There was a significant difference in progression-free survival (PFS) and OS rates noted in patients with PD-L1 expression of ≥50% on the tumor cells.4 This can be translated into HNC, and notably, the KEYNOTE-048 trial of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC will include a PD-L1–positive subgroup as part of its investigation.

“While I do have my doubts about how perfect PD-L1 testing is, I do believe it plays a role for enrichment,” Seiwert commented.

An interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) signature showed significant association with overall response (P = .005) and PFS (P <.001) in an analysis of PD-L1–positive patients from the KEYNOTE-012 trial.5 There was also a very high negative predictive value for patients with non–IFN-γ–inflamed tumors who did not receive benefit from pembrolizumab, which would prove useful in identifying which patients should not receive anti–PD-1 therapy. Of great interest are the patients with inflamed tumors who do not benefit from the treatment. Perhaps they could be converted into responders through combination therapies, Seiwert pondered.

“None of these biomarkers are perfect. I think we need a bit more time to fully understand this, but these are biomarkers that are potentially helpful and might outperform PD-L1 testing in the near future,” Seiwert said.

 

** OCF was one of the financial sponsors of the checkmate 141 trial that produced BMS’s Opdivo drug (nivolumab).**

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March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

UK cancer patient receives new jaw thanks to 3D printing

Source: http://www.3ders.org/
Author: staff

3D printing techniques are being adopted with increasing regularity in surgery of all kinds, and more and more patients are seeing a hugely improved quality of life thanks to the unique benefits of the technology. The most recent success story took place in the UK, where a patient’s jawbone was entirely reconstructed using bone from his leg. The pioneering surgical procedure made use of 3D printing at various different stages.

Stephen Waterhouse was diagnosed with throat cancer eight years ago, and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy in order to fight it. The treatments were a great success and his cancer went away, but they had an unfortunate side effect. His jawbone had started to crumble, and emergency surgery was required before it completely disintegrated. The 53-year-old was taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital, which had purchased a new 3D printer just two years previously.

Costing the hospital trust around £150,000 (about $188K), the machine is the only one of its kind in the country, and was a crucial part of the effort to save the patient’s jawbone. A 3D model was designed from a scan of his remaining intact jaw and printed out as a mold, which was then used to reconstruct the jaw using bone taken from his fibula. The operation lasted around 12 hours and was a great success.

According to Daya Gahir, consultant in maxillofacial and head and neck surgery, the hospital does “at least 40 major head and neck reconstructions per year. Around 10 to 15 cases will be done in this way using the printer.” The procedure is very intricate, and the hospital’s purchase of the 3D printer has revolutionized the way his team operates. “Some of the leg bone was taken then reshaped, as you have to replace bone with bone. We took away some of the skin from the leg as well and replanted it back into the neck. A face is not easy to reconstruct, it is intricate.”

New software for the 3D printer was developed last year, which allows the whole process to be planned and carried out within the hospital. Without this, Stephen may have had to travel to Germany for the operation to be completed, according to Gahir. Using the 3D printer in this way saves a lot of time and effort for patient and medical team alike, as well as cutting costs. Around £11,000 is saved for each case by carrying out the whole surgical process on-site.

Stephen is still in recovery and has praised the care he is receiving from staff, as well as the effectiveness of the surgery. “I am so pleased with the results,” he says, “you can’t tell the difference between the two sides of my mouth.”

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March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|