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Cowboy becomes advocate for Oral Cancer Foundation

Mon, Jul 21, 2014


Source: Idaho Press-Tribune/
Author: Kelcie Moseley

Brian Hill was a self-professed health freak.

He was an outdoorsman who had never used tobacco. He was a fit 230 pounds with 8 percent body fat. But a lump in the side of his neck changed his life in 1997.

Hill is the founder and president of the Oral Cancer Foundation, a small national nonprofit organization based in Newport Beach, California. He is an oral cancer survivor who contracted the disease through human papillomavirus, or HPV, which happens more often than people think, Hill said.

He is now a fierce advocate for more awareness of the disease, which is also often caused by smoking or chewing tobacco — and those two forms of tobacco are about as common with the rodeo crowd as Coors and Budweiser. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 14 percent of boys ages 12 to 17 use smokeless tobacco nationwide, and the rates are higher in rural states.

The newest effort to achieve more awareness and early detection of oral cancer starts with Cody Kiser, the new rodeo representative for the foundation.

Kiser, 23, is a bareback bronco rider who competed in the Snake River Stampede this week on his rodeo circuit. He graduated in May with a civil engineering degree from the University of Nevada-Reno, not far from his hometown of Carson City.

“We’ve wanted to (have a rodeo representative) for about five years, we just never found the right person who was the right voice for the foundation,” Hill said.

That all changed in March, when an employee at the foundation brought up Kiser’s name as a potential candidate for the role. Kiser has never smoked or chewed, which made him an ideal choice.

“I attribute a lot of that to my father and grandfather and family growing up. Nobody chewed,” Kiser said. “It just never was for me, and I just never got into it.”

He added that his family — particularly his mother — would have had plenty to say about it if they found out he was using tobacco.

Kiser agreed to fill the role for the foundation, and the Stampede was his debut. Thursday was the first day he wore a shirt sporting the logo and slogan, “Be Smart, Don’t Start,” down the sleeve. A few of his rodeo buddies had already asked questions about it by Thursday night.

“I tell them we’re just here to give them information about the risks involved and what can happen,” Kiser said.

More than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a type of oral cancer this year, Hill said. It will cause more than 8,000 deaths, killing close to one person every hour. Of those newly diagnosed, only 57 percent will still be alive within five years. Hill is one of the luckier half, even though his diagnosis came when he was already at Stage IV, 18 to 30 months in. And even though he survived, a portion of the right side of his neck needed to be removed.

“It’s a brutal disease to go through,” Hill said. “… We have a death rate that’s just brutal. And if you live, you may not have a tongue, you may not be able to swallow food, people may not be able to understand what you’re saying.”

Though tobacco use is highly popular among rodeo competitors and audiences, Hill said the sport has moved away from tobacco companies in recent years. In 2009, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association ended its national sponsorship contract with the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company. Hill said that has made the sport more appealing as a family event, and it gives the foundation a good place to start. But he believes there is more work to be done, and the foundation will partner with Kiser to get its message into more rodeo programs and public service announcements.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We’re feeling our way through rodeo right now, and by the end of the year we’ll have a better idea of what this looks like.”





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


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Scar-free surgery for cancer patients

Sat, Jul 19, 2014


Author: staff

Singapore — When Mdm Tan Chwee Huay told her friends that she had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous lump in her throat, they thought that she was pulling their leg.

“Nobody could tell that I had gone for such a complex surgery because they could not see any scars.

“They only learnt about my cancer diagnosis after the surgery, and they were shocked,” said the 75-year-old housewife, who was diagnosed with advanced-stage throat cancer in late 2010.

Shortly after her diagnosis, Mdm Tan underwent a surgical procedure known as transoral robotic surgery (TORS) to remove a 2cm lump from the base of her tongue.

Traditionally, conventional surgery for head and neck cancer involving the base of the tongue and throat required making large incisions in the neck, or sawing through the jaw to remove the growth, said Adjunct Assistant Professor Tay Hin Ngan, director of HN Tay ENT, Head and Neck, Thyroid, Sleep and Robotic Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

Incisions from a typical open-neck surgery can extend beyond 20cm, said ENT/head and neck surgeon Dr Jeeve Kanagalingam, a visiting consultant at Johns Hopkins Singapore.

While a skilled surgeon can conceal the incisions within creases or folds of the skin, Dr Kanagalingam said, patients who are predisposed to keloids could risk developing thick, raised scars.

However, advancements in robot-assisted surgical systems have made it possible for surgeons to perform such surgeries without making a visible incision in the neck or face.

Prof Tay, who performed TORS on Mdm Tan, said the “scar-less” surgery is performed through the mouth using the da Vinci surgical robot via a remote control console.

“The robot allows us to work around corners and operate in areas where the human hand previously could not have reached without cutting through the neck or sawing through the jaw,” he explained.

From Pelvic Surgery to Treating Cancer
Prof Tay said Mdm Tan is one of the first few people in Singapore to have undergone TORS since it was introduced here in 2011.

The da Vinci system was previously used in pelvic surgeries, where access for surgery is limited, said Dr Kanagalingam.

In recent years, the robotic surgical system has extended to head and neck operations. TORS can also be used to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) by reducing the bulky tongue base tissue blocking the airways.

To date, Prof Tay has performed about 20 TORS procedures for cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.

“In general, surgery is often the best choice for thyroid and tongue cancers, and advanced laryngeal (voice box) cancers. For cancers in advanced stages, most patients undergo a combination of treatments,” said Dr Kanagalingam.

With the availability of robotic surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy need not be the first-line treatment, added Prof Tay.

“Robotic surgery can remove a tumour first, reducing the amount and area of radiation needed, and allow for less aggressive chemotherapy,” he said.

Fewer Complications
Compared with conventional head and neck surgery, patients who undergo TORS have a lower risk of certain post-surgery complications.

“One of the dreaded complications of open surgery is the risk of saliva leaking through a neck wound. As no neck incision is made during TORS, the risk of this complication is minimal,” said Prof Tay.

Another boon, added Prof Tay, is that patients are able to preserve their swallowing function, as the TORS procedure does not cut through swallowing muscles to reach the tumour. A day after her surgery, Mdm Tan was able to consume a soft diet without much pain during swallowing. With conventional open surgery, patients such as Mdm Tan might require tube feeding for 10 to 14 days before being allowed to try liquids and slowly progressing to solids.

She may not be able to eat solid food for a month, said Prof Tay.

However, not all head and neck tumours can be removed using TORS and every patient needs to be assessed carefully, said Dr Kanagalingam.

As with any surgical procedure, there are also some risks involved in TORS, including bleeding in the tongue and throat.

“This is potentially life-threatening if not handled well, so an experienced robotic surgeon is essential.

“This risk is higher in tumour surgery compared to OSA surgery, as we go deeper and are more likely to encounter these vessels.

“Other risks include damage to the teeth, tongue swelling and change in the sense of taste. But these usually recover on their own with time,” said Prof Tay.

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Docetaxel regimen tops cisplatin in head and neck cancer

Sat, Jul 19, 2014


Author: Anna Azvolinsky, PhD

A phase II study has demonstrated that combining docetaxel-based chemoradiotherapy and the antibody cetuximab postoperatively in patients with high-risk squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck led to improved disease-free and overall survival, with no unexpected toxicities. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Two-hundred and thirty-eight stage III and IV patients were randomized to receive radiation therapy (60 Gy) plus cetuximab and either cisplatin (30 mg/m2) or docetaxel (15 mg/m2) once per week as part of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0234 clinical trial.

The 2-year overall survival (OS) was 69% in the cisplatin treatment arm and 79% in the docetaxel treatment arm. The 2-year disease-free survival (DFS) was 57% and 66% in the cisplatin and docetaxel arms, respectively.

Previously, two large phase III trials, the RTOG 9501 and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) 22931 trials, both showed a small but significant survival benefit for postoperative head and neck cancer patients who received adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy concurrently, resulting in the incorporation of cisplatin in an adjuvant regimen for high-risk patients. The drawback was that adding cisplatin to radiation therapy increased toxicity. Many of these patients are not candidates for the combination therapy due to poor performance status, older age, and renal insufficiency. The purpose of the current trial was to test whether combining a molecular therapy such as cetuximab with chemotherapy would improve survival with a better toxicity profile, compared with radiation therapy plus chemotherapy.

After a median follow-up of 4.4 years, 48 patients in the cisplatin arm had a DFS event compared with 51 patients in the docetaxel arm. Cisplatin patients had a 24% reduction (P = .05) and docetaxel patients had a 31% reduction (P = .01) in the DFS failure rate compared with a historical control arm (the RTOG 9501 trial).

Patients who had p16-positive oropharynx tumors (43 of 54 patients) had improved survival compared with those who had p16-negative oropharynx disease.

The most common high-grade non-hematologic adverse events were mucositis, dysphagia, and skin rash, seen in both the cisplatin and docetaxel treatment arms. Patients in the cisplatin arm had a greater frequency of high-grade hematologic toxicities compared with those in the docetaxel arm (27.8% vs 14.2%, respectively). More patients in the docetaxel arm had toxicities deemed unacceptable by those conducting the trial (12.3% in the docetaxel arm vs 9.3% in the cisplatin arm).

Cetuximab is a chimeric human monoclonal antibody against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

“The delivery of postoperative chemoradiotherapy (using cisplatin or docetaxel once per week plus 60 Gy radiation) with concurrent once-per-week cetuximab for patients with SCCHN [squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck] who have high-risk pathologic features is feasible and tolerated with predictable toxicity. The radiation-docetaxel-cetuximab regimen shows particularly promising outcome with improvement in DFS and OS relative to RTOG historical controls and appears worthy of further investigation in high-risk patients with SCCHN,” concluded the authors.

Because the conclusions of this trial rely on a historical control comparison, these results need to be further validated in a phase III control-arm clinical trial. The docetaxel plus cetuximab regimen is currently being tested in a phase II/III clinical trial.

In an editorial, Amanda Psyrri, MD, PhD, and Urania Dafni, MD, both of the University of Athens in Greece, noted that, “In an era when next-generation sequencing is becoming increasingly available, identification of mutations that predict therapeutic response or resistance would be a major advance. Therefore, it seems mandatory that we focus our efforts at identifying an ‘EGFR sensitivity signature.’ Until then, it would seem wise not to conduct large phase III studies with cetuximab in unselected patient populations.”

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Oral Cancer Foundation, Cody Kiser partner for Idaho rodeo

Sat, Jul 19, 2014


Author: DrBicuspid Staff

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) is partnering with Cody Kiser, a rodeo cowboy who will serve as a spokesman for the group, at the Snake River Stampede Rodeo, held July 15-19 in Nampa, ID.

Kiser hopes to serve as a positive role model for children and teens that look up to cowboys as their heroes in the rodeo world. Research shows that as many as 15% of high school boys use smokeless tobacco in the U.S. With the nicotine content in a can of dip equaling approximately that of 80 cigarettes, this addiction can be one of the hardest to break, which is why the OCF hopes to educate parents and youth about the dangers before they get started.

“My dad was a cowboy, so I know what it’s like looking up to cowboys as heroes for my whole life,” Kiser stated in a press release. “My dad was a positive role model in my life growing up in that regard, and the idea of using spit tobacco never appealed to me. Right now, I’m pursuing rodeo as a passion of mine, and if at the same time I can do some good in the world and set the right example for young kids who might look up to me, then I’m honored and eager to do so.”

“Every kid has a hero they look up to, and whether it’s a cowboy, baseball player, or other strong figure in their lives; even heroes can still have some aspect of their life that is less than a perfect example to follow,” explained Brian Hill, OCF founder and executive director. “We are excited to partner with Cody and venture into the rodeo arena because we believe we can make a real difference there.”

“Cody is a great partner for us,” Hill continued, “This is the first time a nonprofit is really going into a world that is very much tied to the use of smokeless tobacco and proactively advocating against it. Our messaging to youth is simple: ‘Be Smart. Don’t start.’ “

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Antioxidants May Cause More Harm Than Good in Cancer Patients

Mon, Jul 14, 2014


Author: Zosia Chustecka

While alternative health gurus often encourage increasing antioxidants in the diet and the taking of antioxidant nutritional supplements such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium, new research findings suggest that antioxidants could do more harm than good, especially in cancer patients.

The idea is discussed in a perspective article on the promise and perils of antioxidants for cancer patients in the July 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Coauthor David Tuveson, MD, PhD, professor and deputy director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center in New York, explained in an interview with Medscape Medical News that the idea that antioxidants could be useful in cancer goes back to Linus Pauling, and is based on observations that oxidation within cells is needed for cell growth. “As cancer cells growth rapidly, a cancer cell would have more oxidation within it than a normal cell,” he added, and the hope was that antioxidants would interfere with these cellular oxidative processes and would suppress the growth.

“Although some early preclinical studies supported this concept,” the authors write, there have now been several clinical trials that have shown no effect of antioxidants on reducing the incidence of cancer, and there have even been suggestions of harm in persons who are at risk for cancer.

Dr. Tuveson noted a clinical trial from Scandinavia in the early 1990s, which found that high doses of antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene, were associated with more lung cancer rather than less as had been hoped for.

There was a similar finding from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), which found that the antioxidants did not reduce the risk for prostate cancer, as had been hoped, and in fact increased the risk in some men.

Dose-dependent Harmful Effect

The perspectives article was prompted by new findings reported earlier this year, he said. An animal study carried out by Swedish researchers showed that the harm from antioxidants was dose-dependent (Sci Transl Med. 2014;6:221ra15). The study was conducted in a genetically engineered mouse model that mimics early human non-small-cell lung cancer. The researchers studied N-acetylcysteine (which is used in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and also derivatives of vitamin E, and they found that these antioxidants “actually increased cancer burden and mortality in a dose-dependent manner.”

“The mice got lung cancer faster and they died more quickly of the disease,” Dr. Tuveson said.

In their perspective article, Dr. Tuveson and coauthor Navdeep Chandel, PhD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, address the question of why.

It turns out that all cells have not only oxidative mechanisms producing reactive oxygen species, they also have a mechanism by which they produce antioxidants, and so there is a balance between the 2 in each cell. “And cancer cells, because they make more oxidants, also make more antioxidants,” Dr. Tuveson explained.

“So when adding an antioxidant as a supplement, all you are doing is increasing a pool of what is already there,” he said. “But you are not actually stopping the oxidative mechanisms, and you are not stopping the production of oxidants in the first place, and the pathways that are fuelling cell growth,” he added.

“All you are doing is helping the cancer cell deal with the toxic effects of the oxidants, and by doing so you may be actually making the cancer cell even stronger,” Dr. Tuveson said.

“The antioxidants that we take as a supplement or in our diet don’t go after the root cause of how oxidants promote cancer cell biology,…and our suggestion is that we need to look much more carefully at these mechanisms if we are to truly develop strategies to prevent cancer,” he said.

In their article, the authors propose 2 strategies for further research — the development of antioxidants that target specific intracellular sites of oxidant production, and also a synthetic lethal strategy directed at antioxidants produced within the cell. Both of these strategies are currently at the research stage, with work focused on developing compounds that could be tested in humans.

As for the clinical implications of the research so far, Dr. Tuveson said: “We don’t firmly say that taking antioxidants is dangerous for cancer patients…but I do believe that our article will cause those discussions to begin.”

However, others have already warned cancer patients not to take antioxidants; for instance, prostate cancer patients have been warned against taking selenium, as previously reported by Medscape Medical News.

In addition, there is a question of whether antioxidants may interfere with common cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as these work by increasing oxidation within cancer cells, Dr. Tuveson commented. This is an area that needs to be studied more, he said.

This issue of antioxidants being harmful to cancer patients was raised last year by Nobel laureate James Watson, PhD, who is chancellor emeritus at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He described a new hypothesis on reactive oxygen species that he considers is “among my most important work since the double helix.”

Dr. Watson proposed that antioxidant levels within cancer cells are a problem and are responsible for resistance to treatment, and that the untreatability of late-stage cancer might be the result of “its possession of too many antioxidants.”

“The time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use more likely causes than prevents cancer,” Dr. Watson said. Nutritional intervention trials have shown no obvious effectiveness in preventing cancer or in lengthening mortality, and, “in fact, they seem to slightly shorten the lives of those who take them.”

Dr. Tuveson, who works at the same institution, commented at the end of the interview that “Dr. Watson is usually a few steps ahead of the rest of us.”


 *This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
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Salivary gland cancers rare, but sometimes deadly

Sat, Jul 12, 2014


Author: Andrea K. Walker

Professional baseball great Tony Gwynn Sr., also known as Mr. Padre, died last month of salivary gland cancer, which he believed was caused by years of using smokeless chewing tobacco. The cancer is a rare form that begins in any of the salivary glands in the mouth, neck or throat. Two adults in 100,000 are diagnosed with salivary gland cancer each year. The chances of survival drop if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Dr. Patrick K. Ha, with Johns Hopkins Head and Neck Surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, says new types of treatments and therapies are in the works to treat the disease.

What is salivary gland cancer and how common is it?
Salivary gland cancers are a diverse group of rare malignancies that can involve any of the major salivary glands (the parotid, submandibular and sublingual) or minor salivary glands, which are found within the lip, palate, tongue base, nasal cavity or sinuses. There are numerous different cancers that may arise from the salivary glands, and these may behave differently based on their cell of origin.

What causes it, and who is more likely to get it?
Little is known about the causes of salivary gland cancers. Unlike the more common head and neck cancers, which have a clear association with smoking, drinking or even the human papillomavirus (HPV), salivary gland cancers do not have such strong associations. There may be a link between significant radiation exposure (i.e., treatment level doses) in the development of salivary gland cancers, as well as with some environmental exposures such as nickel alloy, asbestos or woodworking materials. Tony Gwynn believed using chewing tobacco throughout his professional baseball career was the cause of his cancer, but salivary gland cancers aren’t as strongly linked to tobacco use as some other types of cancers. Nonetheless, we advise against smoking, using smokeless tobacco or even e-cigarettes. They are all addictive and tobacco products contain carcinogens relevant to other cancers.

We do know that men are more likely to get this type of cancer, with the average age of onset in the mid-60s.

What are the symptoms of salivary gland cancer?
Unfortunately, salivary gland cancers most often present as painless masses in the cheek, neck, or within the sinuses/tongue base. Because most of these masses are slow growing, the development of symptoms occurs relatively late. Depending on which gland is involved, the symptoms may include a visible lump, difficulty breathing, swallowing problems or pain. Late symptoms might include facial weakness/drooping, numbness or visual changes.

How is it diagnosed and is it hard to detect?
The ultimate diagnosis is made with a biopsy. A distinction can often be made between benign and cancerous masses with a small needle biopsy, but sometimes requires complete removal of the mass to make this determination. Imaging with a CT scan or MRI can be helpful, especially for operative planning. Depending on where the tumor is located, detection can be more difficult. For example, a mass on the outer surface of the parotid or submandibular gland will be more easily felt than a mass growing in the sinus.

How is it treated and what is the likelihood of survival?
Most salivary gland cancers are treated with surgery up front for complete removal, and possibly radiation afterwards, depending on how serious the disease appeared at the time of surgery and under the microscope. Chemotherapy is less well proven to be helpful in these cancers but could sometimes be considered as additional therapy along with radiation. While some forms of salivary gland cancer can be aggressive, most are relatively well treated, and the five-year survival rate can be upwards of 75 percent.

What new therapies are on the horizon for salivary gland cancers?
Currently, there are trials available to examine the role of chemotherapy in salivary gland cancer treatment. Additionally, work is being done to look into targeted therapy which can better treat the cancers without the significant side effects. Unfortunately, because these are rare cancers, we need to perform the basic research to understand how these cancers arise before we can really make significant advancements in their treatment.

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An effective and well-tolerated strategy in recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer: successive lines of active chemotherapeutic agents

Sat, Jul 12, 2014


Author: staff

The combination platinum, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cetuximab is the standard first-line regimen of recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Due to the toxicity of this treatment, alternative therapies are often offered to patients.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the overall survival obtained with a first line chemotherapy adapted to patients functional status and the administration of all active drugs within successive lines of chemotherapy.

Methods: This series included a total of 194 patients with recurrent and/or metastatic HNSCC treated from 2006 to 2011 in a single institution where the administration of successive lines of chemotherapies has been the standard clinical approach. Treatment was administered according to clinical practice guidelines.

Results: Most patients received at least two treatment lines.

Only 11 patients (6%) were treated with a combination of cisplatin, 5-FU and cetuximab in front line, but most patients received at least one platinum-based regimen (n = 154 patients, 78%); 162 (82%) received taxanes, 36 (18%) received 5-FU, 27 (14%) received capecitabine, 67 (34%) received methotrexate and 134 (68%) received cetuximab. The median overall survival was 9.8 months (95% CI: 8.1-11.4 months) and reached 13.1 months among the subgroup of 131 patients eligible for inclusion in a clinical trial.

Conclusion: The survival outcomes of patients treated in the first-line setting with chemotherapy regimens adapted to their functional status, followed by several subsequent regimens were comparable with published outcomes of patients treated by platinum, 5-FU and cetuximab.

Credits/Source: BMC Cancer 2014, 14:504

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ACS awards $1.7M to study racial disparities in HNC patients

Sat, Jul 12, 2014


Author: DrBicuspid Staff

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has awarded a $1.7 million grant to Philadelphia researchers to investigate factors that may contribute to the racial disparities seen among those diagnosed and treated for head and neck cancers (HNC) — specifically head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

While head and neck cancers account for only 3% of all cancers in the U.S., a disproportionately high number of African Americans are affected. Recent research has shown that other biological factors, and tobacco and alcohol use, may have a role in the development of these cancers. Other studies suggest that low socioeconomic status and poor healthcare access are the main contributors to this disparity.

“Studies on genes involved in tobacco and drug metabolism and efflux suggest an association of genetic variants with head and neck cancer risk and survival in populations of European and Asian ancestries,” stated Camille Ragin, PhD, an associate professor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center and the study’s principal investigator, in a press release. “Genetic variants associated with the survival disparity of head and neck cancer in African-derived populations, however, is not yet clear.”

An accumulation of cancer-causing compounds occurs when products from tobacco smoke enter the body’s cells, in some cases enabled by alcohol, and are broken down by proteins. Variations in the genetic code that generate these proteins can lead to differences in their function and could affect the way disease may develop or respond to drug therapy. In many cases, the genetic makeup of these proteins differs according to race.

“Our group suggests that genetic factors and the environment work together to contribute to the observed racial disparities in HNSCC incidence and survival,” Ragin said. “With this grant we will be able to use novel techniques to look for variations in the genetic makeup in these genes that are unique to African Americans.”

These findings may help improve early detection and cancer prevention interventions by providing insight into the biology of the disease and factors that contribute to racial disparities.

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Oscar Award winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is diagnosed with Throat Cancer

Fri, Jul 11, 2014


Author: Jun Hongo

World-renowned Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto says he has throat cancer and has canceled his scheduled shows and activities.

The Oscar-winning composer and anti-nuclear activist said Thursday that he was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer at the end of June.

“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to take time off of work in order to concentrate on treating it,” the 62-year-old said in a statement. “I promise to return after a full recovery.”

According to his management agency Avex Music Creative Inc., Mr. Sakamoto will step down as one of the directors of the Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, scheduled to start next week. He will also cancel live shows including a performance at Park Hyatt Tokyo on July 30.

Avex Music Creative said there is no time frame set for Mr. Sakamoto’s return, and that the artist will “dedicate all his time to treatment.” The agency declined to offer details on the current stage of Mr. Sakamoto’s cancer.

The pioneering musician debuted as a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1978, playing a role in the emergence of electro pop and providing inspiration for a generation of electronic music and hip-hop producers. His creativity and prowess as a keyboard player, producer and composer extends to a large swath of genres and styles from pop rock to bossa nova. He won an Academy Award for composing the score music for Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film “The Last Emperor,” a movie he also appeared in as an actor.

Among international honors bestowed on Mr. Sakamoto, he was named an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in 2009.

In addition to his work in music, producing and acting, Mr. Sakamoto has been one of the most vocal activists against nuclear power following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

He has also been a leading figure in recent moves to prevent outdated legislation being used to stop people dancing at nightclubs in Japan.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
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Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPChase Morgan, is diagnosed with throat cancer

Wed, Jul 2, 2014


Author: Jessica Silver-Greenberg


Jamie Dimon the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, has throat cancer and will begin treatment shortly at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he said in a note to the bank’s employees and shareholders late Tuesday.

Doctors discovered the cancer at an early stage, Mr. Dimon, 58, said, noting that his condition was “curable.”

After a series of tests, he said the doctors confirmed that the cancer had not spread beyond the “original site” and the adjacent lymph nodes on the right side of his neck.

Mr. Dimon assured employees at JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, that the prognosis from the doctors was “excellent.”

Mr. Dimon, who has held the dual roles of chief executive and chairman at the bank since 2006, has been atop JPMorgan longer than any other bank chief.

The announcement of his diagnosis came on Mr. Dimon’s 10-year anniversary at JPMorgan. That tenure, which began when JPMorgan acquired Bank One, has been marked by triumph — the bank emerged from the financial crisis in better shape than its rivals — and by tumult.

The bank has worked to mend its frayed relationships with regulators — a painful reconciliation that cost it roughly $20 billion. In November, JPMorgan reached a record $13 billion settlement with a range of government authorities over its sale of questionable mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the financial crisis. The bank also reached a $2 billion settlement over accusations that it failed to sound alarms about Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

JPMorgan has also been buffeted by the departure of several top executives. In the last two years alone, at least 10 senior executives have left JPMorgan.

Most recently, Michael J. Cavanagh, once considered an heir to Mr. Dimon, left the bank to join the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.

And like its rivals, JPMorgan, which will report second-quarter earnings on July 15, is grappling with a slowdown in its trading business.

It has been a particularly grueling stretch for trading units across Wall Street. The sluggish trading revenue traces, in part, to a spate of rules passed in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

In the past, banks made some of their riskiest wagers — bets that sometimes translated into rich profits — through trading complex derivatives, bonds and commodities. In the new banking landscape, where interest rates remain persistently low, the role of those businesses has been diminished.

In his annual letter to shareholders in April, Mr. Dimon stressed that despite the “constant and intense pressure,” he was proud of the bank’s resiliency and its resolve. Last year, JPMorgan earned $17.9 billion in profit despite the legal costs.

Mr. Dimon reiterated his faith in the leadership of the bank on Tuesday. He did not outline any plans to cede the reins of the bank while he has treatment — a process that he said should last about eight weeks.

In his note, Mr. Dimon emphasized that the company would “continue to deliver first-class results for our customers.”

The illness of any chief executive naturally prompts questions about who is prepared to take over, at least for a little while. But Mr. Dimon emphasized in his note that he would remain immersed in the day-to-day operations of the bank.

JPMorgan’s board has remained firmly behind Mr. Dimon, redoubling support for him. The board awarded Mr. Dimon $20 million in annual compensation for his work in 2013. The raise came one year after the board had cut his compensation to $11.5 million.

Even before Mr. Dimon’s diagnosis the board agreed on various succession plans.

“The board had already established a short-term, medium-term and longer-term succession plan,” said a JPMorgan spokesman, Joseph Evangelisti.

Among the potential successors, people briefed on the matter said, are Gordon Smith, the head of JPMorgan’s consumer bank, and Mary Erdoes, who runs the asset management business.

The inclusion of Mr. Smith and Ms. Erdoes reflected the changing fortunes of banking. JPMorgan’s consumer business, for example, has taken on more prominence as the bank shifts its focus to credit cards and auto loans and away from intricate deal-making and trades that once were the hallmark of Wall Street.
* This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
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