Magnolia man joins exclusive trial in battle against cancer

Source: www.cantonrep.com
Author: Denise Sautters

Rich Bartlett is looking forward to getting back to his hobbies — woodworking and nature watching — and enjoying a good steak and potato dinner. Until then, though, he is in a fight for his life, one he plans to win.

Bartlett is a cancer patient and the first participant in a clinical trial at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland to test the safety of an immunotherapy drug — Pembrolizumab — when added to a regimen of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Back to the beginning
Bartlett went to the dentist in October for a checkup.

“He had a sore in his mouth he thought was an abscess,” explained his wife, Nancy Bartlett, who pointed out that, because radiation and chemo treatments cause the inside of the mouth to burn and blister, it is hard for Bartlett to talk.

“When the dentist looked at his sore, he sent Richard to a specialist in Canton, and in early November, he had a biopsy done. It came back positive for cancer.”

From there, he was referred to Dr. Pierre Lavertu, director of head and neck surgery and oncology at University Hospitals, and Dr. Chad Zender from the otolaryngology department, who did Bartlett’s surgery.

“They let us know it was serious,” said Nancy. “It had gone into the bone and the roof of the mouth, but they were not sure if it had gone into the lymph nodes. By the time we got through that appointment, it was the first part of December and (they) scheduled him for surgery on Dec. 22.”

The cancer tripled in size by then and the surgery lasted 10 hours. Doctors had to remove the tumor, all of the lymph nodes and parts of the jaw and the roof of Bartlett’s mouth.

“They harvested skin from his hand to rebuild the inside of his mouth, and took the veins and arteries and reattached everything through his (right) cheek,” she said. “He could not even have water until February because of the patch. He uses a feeding tube to eat now.”

The tube is temporary until Bartlett heals.

Clinical trial
Just before he started chemo and radiation therapies, the hospital called him about the clinical trial.

The trial is the first to use quadra-modality therapy — or four different types of therapy — against the cancer, according to Dr. Min Yao, the principal investigator.

Yao said Bartlett has squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, with only a 50 percent chance of survival.

“Patients have surgery, then followed by six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and immunotherapy,” Yao said in an email interview. “That is followed by six more months of immunotherapy, one dose every three weeks.”

Bartlett currently is in the radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy part of the study.

“It is too early to tell how he is responding,” said Yao. “His tumor has been resected. After the treatment, we will see them periodically with scans. Cancer often recurs in the first two years after treatment.”

Pembrolizumab originally was developed to activate the body’s immune system in the fight against melanoma. Former president Jimmy Carter was treated with the drug for his brain metastases from melanoma in 2015.

A truck driver by trade, Bartlett will undergo daily fluoride treatments for the rest of his life to protect his teeth.

“We did not realize until we got to Cleveland just how bad this was,” said Nancy. “When you have oral cancer, and they are getting ready to do radiation and chemo, you have to go have your teeth cleaned and examined and get anything done that needs to be done because radiation tends to compromise your blood flow in your mouth. That was a step we didn’t know.”

Although he was shocked to hear the outcome of that sore in his mouth, Bartlett is grateful to be a part of the trial.

“Who wouldn’t feel good about something like this? I mean, you got something that was used on Jimmy Carter, who is recovered and is now making public appearances again,” said Bartlett, who is looking forward to June when hopefully he can start eating again and enjoying his hobbies.

“I am very hopeful about this. The whole thing has been a trial. I have a dentist in Cleveland who said I was going to be in the fight of my life, and I am. I am in a huge fight. The chemotherapy is what has knocked me down the most, but I am very positive about the outcome of this.”

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March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Self-persuasion iPad app spurs low-income parents to protect teens against cancer-causing HPV

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-03-self-persuasion-ipad-app-spurs-low-income.html
Date: March 7, 2017

As health officials struggle to boost the number of teens vaccinated against the deadly human papillomavirus, a new study from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, found that self-persuasion works to bring parents on board.

Currently public health efforts rely on educational messages and doctor recommendations to persuade parents to vaccinate their adolescents. Self-persuasion as a tool for HPV vaccinations has never been researched until now.

The SMU study found that low-income parents will decide to have their teens vaccinated against the sexually transmitted cancer-causing virus if the parents persuade themselves of the protective benefits.

The study’s subjects—almost all moms—were taking their teens and pre-teens to a safety-net pediatric clinic for medical care. It’s the first to look at changing parents’ behavior through self-persuasion using English- and Spanish-language materials.

“This approach is based on the premise that completing the vaccination series is less likely unless parents internalize the beliefs for themselves, as in ‘I see the value, I see the importance, and because I want to help my child,'” said psychology professor Austin S. Baldwin, a principal investigator on the research.

Depending on age, the HPV vaccine requires a series of two or three shots over eight months. External pressure might initially spark parents to action. But vaccinations decline sharply after the first dose.

The new study follows an earlier SMU study that found guilt, social pressure or acting solely upon a doctor’s recommendation was not related to parents’ motivation to vaccinate their kids.

The new finding is reported in the article “Translating self-persuasion into an adolescent HPV vaccine promotion intervention for parents attending safety-net clinics” in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.

Both studies are part of a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. Baldwin, associate professor in the SMU Department of Psychology, is co-principal investigator with Jasmin A. Tiro, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Addressing the HPV problem

A very common virus, HPV infects nearly one in four people in the United States, including teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in females; penile cancer in males; and anal cancer, back of the throat cancer and genital warts in both genders, the CDC says.

The CDC recommends a series of two shots of the vaccine for 11- to 14-year-olds to build effectiveness in advance of sexual activity. For 15- to 26-year-olds, they are advised to get three doses over the course of eight months, says the CDC.

Currently, about 60% of adolescent girls and 40% of adolescent boys get the first dose of the HPV vaccine. After that, about 20% of each group fail to follow through with the second dose, Baldwin said.

The goal set by health authorities is to vaccinate 80% of adolescents to achieve the herd immunity effect of indirect protection when a large portion of the population is protected.

NCI grant aimed at developing a software app

The purpose of the National Cancer Institute grant is to develop patient education software for the HPV vaccine that is easily used by low-income parents who may struggle to read and write, and speak only Spanish.

A body of research in the psychology field has shown that the technique of self-persuasion among well-educated people is successful using written English-language materials. Self-persuasion hasn’t previously been tested among underserved populations in safety-net clinics.

The premise is that individuals will be more likely to take action because the choice they are making is important to them and they value it.

In contrast, where motivation is extrinsic, an individual acts out of a sense of others’ expectations or outside pressure.

Research has found that people are much more likely to maintain a behavior over time—such as quitting smoking, exercising or losing weight—when it’s autonomously motivated. Under those circumstances, they value the choice and consider it important.

“A provider making a clear recommendation is clearly important,'” said Deanna C. Denman, a co-author on the study and a graduate researcher in SMU’s Psychology Department. “Autonomy over the decision can be facilitated by the doctor, who can confirm to parents that “The decision is yours, and here are the reasons I recommend it.'”

Doctor’s recommendation matters, but may not be sufficient

For the SMU study, the researchers educated parents in a waiting room by providing a custom-designed software application running on an iPad tablet.

The program guided the parents in English or Spanish to scroll through audio prompts that help them think through why HPV vaccination is important. The parents verbalized in their own words why it would be important to them to get their child vaccinated. Inability to read or write wasn’t a barrier.

Parents in the SMU study were recruited through the Parkland Memorial Hospital’s out-patient pediatric clinics throughout Dallas County. Most of the parents were Hispanic and had a high school education or less. Among 33 parents with unvaccinated adolescents, 27—81%—decided they would vaccinate their child after completing the self-persuasion tasks.

New study builds on prior study results

In the earlier SMU study, researchers surveyed 223 parents from the safety-net clinics. They completed questionnaires relevant to motivation, intentions and barriers to vaccination.

The researchers found that autonomous motivation was strongly correlated with intentions, Denman said. As autonomous motivation increased, the greater parents’ intentions to vaccinate. The lower the autonomous motivation, the lower the parents’ intentions to vaccinate, she explained.

“So they may get the first dose because the doctor says it’s important,” Baldwin said. “But the second and third doses require they come back in a couple months and again in six months. It requires the parent to feel it’s important to their child, and that’s perhaps what’s going to push or motivate them to complete the series. So that’s where, downstream, there’s an important implication.”

More information: Austin S. Baldwin et al. Translating self-persuasion into an adolescent HPV vaccine promotion intervention for parents attending safety-net clinics, Patient Education and Counseling (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.11.014

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March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Why Oh Why Is There Phlegm?

Source: www.npr.com
Author:
Wendy Mitman Clarke

Struggling through a nasty round of bronchitis with little better to do than binge watch Netflix and feel epically sorry for myself, I pondered the ageless cold-and-flu-season question: Phlegm. Why?

It begs an answer. The human body is capable of such constant wonder, so much to awe and inspire. And then, phlegm. And not just a little phlegm. Gobs. It’s the only word that really describes the whole phlegm experience.

So I started asking around, and in so doing have learned that there’s a lot more to phlegm than meets the Kleenex.

First, some definitions. Phlegm is really just one form of mucus, which the body produces all over the place to perform useful tasks, says Murray Ramanathan Jr., medical director of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, Md. And because he suffers from chronic sinusitis himself, he gets the whole mucus thing on a pretty personal level.

“The entire lining of the respiratory tract, which includes the nose all the way to the bottom of the lung, makes mucus,” he says. Phlegm, he says, is limited to mucus made in the lung and in the trachea.

Or as Mark Rosen, a pulmonologist at Mount Sinai in New York and a past president of the American College of Chest Physicians, puts it: “Phlegm is something you cough up, not something you blow out.”

When everything is running smoothly, we produce phlegm and mucus every day — about a liter, Ramanathan says. We usually swallow that daily production without even noticing.

Both mucus and phlegm act as general maintenance and cleaning mechanisms, keeping airways moist and tidy and defending against the host of pollutants, particles, viruses and other things that do not belong in your nose or lungs.

“That’s often what you see when you blow your nose,” says Ramanathan, who studies the role of pollutants and environment in respiratory issues. “In foreign countries where diesel exhaust is a major contributor to air pollution and some people use wood fires indoors for cooking, you actually see black deposition and particles from the air pollution.”

But mucus also has an immunological role in sniffing out trouble. It provides proteins that are antiviral and antibacterial. Receptors on the epithelial cells in the airway sense threats and create bug-fighting enzymes in the mucus, which moves along via the cilia—microscopic hair-like structures that can provide propulsion to help eject the foreign substance.

What we call smoker’s cough, Ramanathan says, “is when the components of cigarette smoke get into the lung and cause mucus [and phlegm] to be produced, because cigarette smoke is an irritant to the respiratory lining in both the nose and the lung.”

This primary defense system can be overwhelmed by viruses, bacteria and the resulting inflammation of the airway. That’s when mucus and phlegm production go into overdrive. And often with the increase in quantity, the quality changes too, becoming thicker to better trap and remove the offending material. Before you know it, you’ve achieved gobs status.

Sometimes phlegm can morph from its usual clear to yellow or green, a byproduct of the white blood cells that have charged in to fight infection. And then we as patients get asked that question — What color is it? — since color can sometimes, although not always, indicate the presence of infection.

As someone who tries to avoid inspection of my own snot or phlegm, I’ve always found this a rather disgusting query. But Ramanathan sees it another way. “As a sinus doctor, one of the worst nightmares you get is when people bring into the office the little Ziploc baggie of, ‘Look what I coughed out yesterday!’ In rare cases, they bring in Tupperware.”

So what to do to survive the phlegm stage, besides stock up on tissues and make sure the iPad is fully charged for the Netflix binge? Antibiotics will only help if you have a bacterial infection, and the average cold, no matter how phlegmy, usually doesn’t qualify.

“Just because your phlegm is green doesn’t mean you need antibiotics,” Rosen says. “Your cold and mine, even if you’re coughing up stuff, is usually viral, and there are no antibiotics for a virus.”

If your phlegm gets too gob-like (technical term), over-the-counter meds like Mucinex can help thin it, which makes it easier to expel, Ramanathan says. For the sinuses, using a Neti pot or decongestants can aid the mucus flow, and bending over a pot of steaming water helps some people with the symptoms, he says. I can revert straight to my childhood with the scent of Vicks VapoRub, doubling the comfort factor. And of course, chicken soup.

Eventually, as the illness subsides and the airway calms down and is no longer irritated (phlegmatic, you could say), the system goes back to producing our regular ration of mucus. Something for which we should be grateful every day.

 

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

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February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Bill Snyder Addresses Health Situation

Source: http://www.kstatesports.com

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder addressed today reports of his current health, which will not affect his duties leading the Wildcat program.

“I feel bad having to release this information about my health in this manner prior to sharing it in person with so many personal friends, distant family, players and their families, past and present, and many of the Kansas State football family so close to our program,” Snyder said. “But, with so much talk presently out there, I certainly owe it to everyone to make them aware of my condition.

“I have been diagnosed with throat cancer and have been receiving outpatient treatment at the KU Medical Center for about three weeks and am getting along very well. The doctors and staffs at both KU Med and M.D. Anderson (in Houston, Texas) have been great; working so very well together to finalize the overall treatment plan which is being conducted in Kansas City. Both ‘teams’ have projected a positive outcome and have worked out a schedule that allows me to be in Kansas City for my regular treatments and still be back in the office on a regular basis through the first week of March. Sean, along with our coaching and support staffs, remain highly productive in carrying out their responsibilities keeping us on track.

“I greatly appreciate our President, Richard Myers, and Athletic Director, John Currie, for their continued support, and I’m very grateful to those who have responded over the past 24 hours via calls, texts, emails, etc., with such kind thoughts and words. And again, my apology to each of you whom I did not have the opportunity to reach personally before this release.

“As I’ve said so often: we came to Kansas State University because of the people, we stayed because of the people and we came back because of you, the people. Nothing has changed.

“And most importantly, what an amazing personal family I have been blessed with: Sharon, our children: Sean, Shannon, Meredith, Ross and Whitney and their spouses, along with our eight grandchildren and one great grandchild, have been truly special and motivational for me and for each other during this brief setback. Sharon has made great sacrifices to help me through this and the kids are there every day with their love and encouragement. And today that same love and encouragement is coming from our Kansas State, Manhattan and community families.”

According to Snyder’s doctors, his prognosis is excellent. The hall of fame head coach fully expects to be on the field for the start of spring practice in March.

“Coach Snyder, his family, our football staff, student-athletes and athletics department administration have my full support,” said President Myers. “Coach is one of the most determined individuals I have ever met, and I know he will successfully complete this treatment program and be on the field with our student-athletes in no time.”

“Coach Snyder’s health is of the utmost importance, and he has our full support during this time,” Currie said. “We will provide all of the necessary accommodations he and his family need to ensure a smooth treatment process. He will remain our head coach during this treatment period, and we look forward to seeing him on the field this spring and in pursuit of career win No. 203 on September 2.”

K-State opens spring practice March 29 which will conclude with the Purple/White Spring Game on April 22.

 

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

 

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February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Game changer’ HPV vaccine is now just 2 shots – not 3 – in bid to simplify

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Mary Kekatos for dailymail.com

  • HPV vaccines will now be administered in two doses instead of three
  • The virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US
  • But only 28% of boys and 42% of girls received the advised three doses in 2015
  • Doctors hope the new guidelines increase the number of kids who get the shot

The HPV vaccine will now be administered in two doses instead of three, new guidelines declare. The new rules, published on Monday, come after years of campaigns from cancer experts insisting an easier schedule would encourage more people to protect themselves from the sexually-transmitted infection.

Human papillomavirus (or, HPV) is the most common STI in the United States, affecting around 79 million people. It has been linked to numerous cancers – including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectum and cervical cancer.

Experts claim more widespread vaccine coverage of middle school children could prevent 28,000 cancer diagnoses a year. Currently, fewer than half the children eligible for the vaccine – given out as three doses over six months – are covered. Experts blame the lengthy, arduous schedule.

The American Cancer Society today endorsed the updated recommendations, which were released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Dr Debbie Saslow, Senior Director, HPV Related and Women’s Cancers for the American Cancer Society, said: ‘In the past several years, studies have shown the vaccine is even more effective than expected.

‘This new two-dose regimen is easier to follow, and we now know is very effective in preventing HPV, which is linked to a half dozen types of cancer.’

Each year, about 14 million people become newly infected with HPV. According to the CDC, each year about 19,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in women in the US, with cervical cancer being the most common. And about 8,000 cancers caused by HPV occur each year in men in the US and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are the most common. Besides cervical cancer, HPV has been linked to vaginal, vulvar, oropharyngeal, anal, and penile cancers.

Despite strong evidence of safety and effectiveness, vaccination rates in the US remains very low compared to other countries. Only 28 percent of boys and 42 percent of girls aged 13 to 17 years receiving the recommended three doses in 2015. The skewed figures between genders are largely attributable to the fact that the jab was only offered to boys as a standard vaccine as of last year.

Previously, it was believed HPV was most strongly linked with cervical cancer in women. Research since has shown links with penile, anal, mouth, throat and other cancers in men. However, the gender divide does not fully account for the staggeringly low levels of coverage overall.

Despite the three vaccines that are widely available, the number who choose to be vaccinated remains low, and the age they wait to do so has increased. Only Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia require the vaccine for students.

In response to these figures last year, the ACIP, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted a thorough review of clinical trial data on HPV vaccines. They found that the vaccine in younger adolescents (aged nine to 14 years) produced an immune response similar or higher than the response in young adults (aged 16 to 26 years) who received three doses.

Generally, preteens receive the HPV vaccine at the same time as whooping cough and meningitis vaccines and it is administered before the likely chance of sexual contact.

The new schedule, approved by the FDA in October 2016, states that two doses of HPV vaccine given at least six months apart at ages 11 and 12 will provide ‘safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against HPV cancers’. Even adolescents between ages 13 and 14 are able to receive the HPV vaccination on the new two-dose schedule.
For patients who did not receive HPV vaccination before age 15, three doses are still required and may be given to females up to age 26 and males up to age 21.

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February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

We Have a Vaccine For Six Cancers; Why Are Less Than Half of Kids Getting It?

Author: Electra D. Paskett, Professor of Cancer Research, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University
Source: http://theconversation.com

Early in our careers, few of us imagined a vaccine could one day prevent cancer. Now there is a vaccine that keeps the risk of developing six Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers at bay, but adoption of it has been slow and surprising low.

Although it’s been available for more than a decade, as of 2014 only 40 percent of girls had received the full three doses of the vaccine, while only 22 percent of boys had received all three. That is far lower than the 87 percent vaccination rates for the Tdap vaccine, which prevents tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis. Rates of uptake are low in all population groups.

Some of the reasons include misinformation about the vaccine and why it’s administered to children. Because it is transmitted sexually in almost all cases, many parents assume their children do not need it until they are sexually active. Some believe that giving it will encourage early sexual behavior. Three separate doses on three separate doctor visits place a burden to many working parents. And, of course, there are those few who believe that vaccines are not good for children.

Now, however, with the approval of a two-dose regimen for children under age 15, we have an opportunity to revisit the conversation with providers and parents and reinvigorate efforts to expand HPV vaccination. If successful, we may save tens of thousands of Americans from cancer every year.

A common virus with an uncommon risk

Oncologists and cancer control researchers, including my colleagues at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, regard HPV as the leading cause of many cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile and oropharynx cancers, or head and neck cancers. In fact, studies are now revealing how HPV damages the genes in our cells and triggers the mutations of cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks HPV infections and trends, and the numbers are daunting: 79 million Americans are currently carriers for at least one type of HPV, and about 14 million become newly infected each year. Most infections are benign, and nine of 10 fade within two years. Several strains have been directly linked to cancers, however, inflicting more than 30,000 Americans annually.

HPV is almost universally transmitted through sexual activity, but it can also be transmitted through kissing. For the vaccine to be most effective, immunity must develop well before exposure, which is why it’s important that young people get the vaccine.

The full schedule should be completed at an early age, well before engaging in these risky behaviors. Clinical trials have shown that when administered correctly, the HPV vaccine provides close to 100 percent protection against cervical precancers and genital warts, and over the last decade there has been a 64 percent reduction in the HPV infections the vaccine targets.

The first HPV vaccine, Gardasil, launched with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the summer of 2006. Almost immediately it became embroiled in dangerously incorrect assumptions – even more prevalent at that time – about vaccines, and a persistent political debate that confuses the recommended HPV vaccination age (as young as nine) with when young people become sexually active (much later).

Despite those challenges, the publicity surrounding the vaccine helped health care providers raise awareness, and vaccination rates have grown.

The current formulation, Gardasil 9, requires three doses over six months for young people aged 15 to 26. However, the CDC recently recommended Gardasil 9 as being equally effective in two doses for adolescents nine to 14 years old, with the dosages separated by as much as a year. As parents consider HPV vaccine options, the two-dose approach will likely prove more convenient and easier to provide.

Two doses, many lives

Recently, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers – 69 world-leading research and treatment facilities distributed across the country – called on Americans to universally endorse the vaccines and follow the CDC’s new two-dose recommendation when appropriate.

The new two-dose push is critical. Any cancer is bad, but many of the cancers caused by HPV are particularly difficult. Head and neck cancers are disfiguring and can cause tremendous problems with swallowing and with speaking. In turn, those problems can render patients unable to eat and can dramatically affect a person’s desire to socialize.

After more than a decade of use, it is clear that HPV vaccines are safe and effective. Providers must talk to parents and patients about the vaccine, understand concerns, and respond with clear information and strong recommendations. Parents and guardians, too, should talk to their health care provider to learn more about the HPV vaccine and its benefits.

There are HPV resources for both patients and physicians, such as a CDC fact sheet for patients and a series of resources for clinicians, but the most impact will come from one-on-one conversations. In trusted communication with patients, providers can emphasize the HPV vaccine’s universal safety – in both clinical trials and widespread global use – and explain why the vaccination must come well before a child is sexually active, not as an adult. Ultimately, as with MMR or the flu shot, this is about a virus, not about sex.

All parents and guardians should have their sons and daughters complete a two-dose 9-valent HPV vaccine series before age 13, or complete a catch-up vaccine series as soon as possible in older children, including three doses in those older than 15. The ideal time is when a child is receiving other childhood vaccines at age 11-12. If this bundling had been done, the HPV vaccination rate would be over 90 percent in this country.

Young men and young women up to age 26 who were not vaccinated as preteens or teens need to complete a three-dose vaccine series to protect themselves against HPV.

As a cancer control researcher, and as a parent of three boys, I have closely followed the arrival of HPV vaccines. There is no room for equivocation – these vaccines exist, they work and if they can prevent my children from developing cancer later in life, I had them vaccinated. During the last century, vaccines helped bring many diseases under control, and eradicated smallpox. There is a vaccine that may help eradicate several cancers in this century – but only if we act.

 

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

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February, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Silk and stem cells are being used to generate salivary glands

Source: biotechin.asia
Author: Manish Muhuri

Saliva is a watery substance secreted by the salivary glands located in the mouth. Saliva is essential for good health, as it assists in speaking, swallowing, food digestion, preventing oral infections in addition to many other tasks. Without normal salivary function the frequency of dental caries, gum disease (gingivitis), and other oral problems increases significantly.

Location and types of salivary glands in humans. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

Dysfunction or reduction in activity of salivary glands can be caused by many factors, including diabetes, radiation therapy for head and neck tumors, aging, medication side effects, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tear ducts and salivary glands. Patients suffering from this disease have severely dry mouth. No treatments are currently available for dry mouth. Salivary glands, unfortunately, have very little regenerative capacity.

The title must have left you wondering about the correlation between silk and saliva – what do they have in common? They are both actually part of a unique experiment going on in San Antonio, a study that could change the lives of millions of people who suffer from dry mouth.

Chih-Ko Yeh , BDS, Ph.D., and Xiao-Dong Chen, MD, MS, Ph.D., of the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry decided there had to be a better way to help people than try to develop drugs and figured that stem cells may help solve a common, painful problem.

Yeh said the idea is to use stem cells from the patient’s own body derived from bone marrow to grow new salivary gland cells. In order to coax those stem cells into becoming the right kind of cell, researchers are using silk from worms and spiders as scaffolding.

Silk is a natural protein that mimics the micro-environment of the salivary gland. Silk works well, the scientists say, because it’s biodegradable, flexible and porous, providing easy access to the oxygen and nutrition the cells need to grow. Chen and his partner are using rats to test out ways to place the cells in the body to jump-start tissue repair.

“Then we can deliver those cells to a damaged salivary gland by injection, local injection,” Chen explained.

Yeh and Chen’s early work was published in the journal Tissue Engineering.

Experts said this leap into regenerative medicine is intriguing while patients like Willette are holding out hope. “There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to find something to help with this,” Willette said.

In 2016, the researchers received a grant of more than a million dollars from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (part of the National Institutes of Health) to continue their promising work.

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January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Padres Hall of Famer Randy Jones Battling Throat Cancer

Source: 10news.com
Author:
Mark Saunders
Posted: Jan 26, 2017

SAN DIEGO – Legendary San Diego Padres pitcher Randy Jones is battling throat cancer, the team’s website announced Thursday.

Jones was reportedly diagnosed in November 2016 and has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments since December at Sharp’s Hospital.

“I feel positive,” Jones said told the Padre’s Bill Center. “They caught it early. It’s all in the throat and not in the lymph nodes. I’m beating this thing.”

Jones said he used chewing tobacco as a player and has smoked cigars throughout his adult life.

“I’ve completed 90 percent of my treatment,” Jones told Center. He added that his physicians have said his cancer is linked to tobacco use. He also said his cancer is low-risk.

Since his playing days he has remained heavily involved with the team. He is a spokesperson for the team and a local radio and television personality.

The Friars drafted Jones in 1972, during the 5th round of the amateur draft.

Jones pitched for the Padres from 1973-1980. He recorded a 3.42 ERA and 735 strikeouts through his career. He was the first Padre to win the National League Cy Young Award and the first Padre to start an All-Star Game.

He was a National League all-star in 1975 and 1976, when he led the NL in ERA in 1975 and led in wins in 1976.

Jones’ number was retired by the team in 1997 and two years later, he was a member of the Padre’s first Hall of Fame class.

 

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

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January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Epigenetic modification discovered in adult throat cancers

Source: www.specialtypharmacytimes.com
Author: Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

An epigenetic modification may be the cause of 15% of adult head and neck cancers that are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, according to a study published in Nature Genetics.

Although the body is made up of a large number of different types of cells––neurons, skins cells, fat cells, immune cells–– they all have the same DNA or genome. It was not until recently that scientists discovered their differences can be explained by epigenetics.

“This discovery was absolutely unexpected since it seemed highly improbable that the kind of alterations of the epigenome that we had previously found in other types of tumors in children and young adults could also target an epithelial tumor like throat cancer that occurs only in adults,” said Dr Nada Jabado.

There are already some promising drug molecules currently on the market for other diseases that could be tested for head and neck cancers, as well as other cancer types, according to the study. Additionally, the investigators hope that the findings could help in developing treatments for pediatric patients.

“Now that we’ve identified this cohort of patients, we can move quite quickly since the case of adults, as opposed to children, there are more patients and lots of clinical trials,” Dr Jabado said. “The medicines could then be tested on children afterward.”

Dr Jabado’s work focuses on epigenetics in pediatric cancers, particularly on the mutations of the histone H3 protein. In particular, the investigators were interested in a 2015 publication by the Tumor Cancer Genome Atlas Consortium on head and neck cancer that included 1 of the genes that regulates H3.

“We made use of the same data but took a completely different approach,” said principal study author Dr Jacek Majewski. “Instead of concentrating on genetic mutations, we looked at the effect of these mutations on histone H3 proteins. That’s when we discovered that the histone H3 protein was abnormal or incorrectly modified in about 15% of patients with head and neck cancer. The data were there, but this fact had gone unnoticed.”

An essential part of the study was collaboration between scientists and access to the vast genomic databases of patients around the globe, according to the investigators.

“It’s crucial to have access to public data, because it allows us to advance faster and go further in our analyses,” Dr Jabado said. “In our case, this discovery revealed a sub group of patients who might benefit from a therapy that targets the epigenome. This could improve the treatment of more than 1 in 5 patients suffering from devastating oropharyngeal cancer. We are currently collaborating with 2 big groups specializing in head and neck cancer with the goal of finding treatments.”

The investigators are hopeful that the results of the study will open a variety of treatment options in the future.

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January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer patients sometimes can’t get coverage at the hospitals they want

Source: Washington Post

Author: Michelle Andrews

Published: January 15

Getting cancer is scary. Discovering that your health plan doesn’t give you access to leading cancer centers may make the diagnosis even more daunting.

As insurers participating in the health marketplace shrink their provider networks and slash the number of plans that offer out-of-network coverage, some consumers with cancer are learning that their treatment options can sometimes be limited.

One reader wrote to Kaiser Health News last month saying that she was dismayed to learn that none of the plans offered on the New York marketplace provides access to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she is a patient.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a well-regarded cancer center that is affiliated with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the National Cancer Institute.It participates in New York’s Essential Plan, which is available to lower-income people but not to people enrolling in plans with the familiar categories of bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

NCCN is an alliance of 27 cancer centers whose physicians and researchers develop clinical practice guidelines that are widely respected. The National Cancer Institute’s 69 designated cancer centers, which are recognized for their scientific leadership and research, can offer patients access to cutting-edge treatments and clinical trials.

A 2015 survey found that three-quarters of NCI-designated cancer centers said they participated in at least some exchange plans, and 13 percent said they were included in all exchange plans in their state. Among centers that didn’t participate in any exchanges, many were in states with large numbers of exchange enrollees, including Texas and New York.

Does it matter whether someone with a cancer diagnosis gets treatment at one of these centers rather than at a community hospital or some other site? Research suggests that it may.

A large study published in 2015 found that patients newly diagnosed with several types of cancer — breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric and bile duct — were 20 to 50 percent more likely to die of it if they were initially treated somewhere other than at a NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Researchers hypothesize that the cancer centers’ multidisciplinary approach to decision-making, supportive care and access to the latest treatment, among other things, contribute to the superior outcomes, said Julie Wolfson, a pediatric oncologist at the Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who co-authored the study.

Often, factors besides a hospital’s survival rates contribute to decisions about where to go for care, said Robert Carlson, NCCN’s chief executive. Those include a patient’s social and support systems and concerns about nonmedical costs such as housing and transportation.

“Most patients, if offered the option to go to a major cancer center, especially if it involves traveling, will decline it,” Carlson said.

Some cancer centers aim to give patients access to a variety of facilities. For example, City of Hope cancer center’s main academic campus is in Duarte, Calif., in Los Angeles County. That’s the best site for patients when their cancers are rare or advanced, when optimal treatment isn’t clear or when they could participate in a clinical trial, said Harlan Levine, the chief executive of the City of Hope Medical Foundation. But the cancer center also owns 14 community cancer clinics around southern California for patients who can be effectively treated in that setting.

City of Hope participates in two plans on California’s exchange, Blue Shield and Anthem, and its physicians are in network for the exchange’s Oscar health plan. But most people don’t check about cancer care when they shop for a plan.

“Cancer is an ‘infrequent purchase’ from a marketing point of view,” Levine said. In many cases, patients don’t realize their lack of access until after their diagnosis, when it may be too late.

Cancer centers may try to aid patients regardless of gaps in coverage. “We understand that each patient has a unique financial situation and we work with our patients, especially those in active treatment, to ensure they receive the care needed and that their treatment is uninterrupted,” said Ruth Landé, senior vice president for patient revenues at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Patients who believe that it’s critical to be treated at a cancer center that’s not in their insurance network have some recourse.

When people receive a cancer diagnosis, it’s “overwhelming,” said Anna Howard, a principal for policy development at the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. “You may not be aware of the fact that if your insurance plan says you don’t have coverage at a cancer center, you can file an appeal.”

 

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

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January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|