cancer

HPV vaccine is safe, effective after 10 years: study

Author: AFP/RelaxNews
Date: November 30, 2017
Source: Globalnews.ca

New research looking into the long-term effects of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has found it to be both safe and effective in protecting against the most virulent strains of the virus.

Led by Dr. Daron G. Ferris, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia and at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, the study is the longest followup to date on the vaccine, looking at data from 1,661 male and female participants who were followed for just under 10 years.

Of these participants, around two-thirds received a three-dose regimen of the vaccine when they were ages nine to 15 and sexually inactive.

Initially about one-third received a placebo — not a vaccine — however, the placebo group also received the vaccine 30 months into the study, meaning that these individuals were followed a shorter period of time.

Ferris found that the vaccine was virtually 100 per cent effective in preventing the disease, although vaccinating earlier produced the most robust initial and long-term antibody response, the proteins found in the blood which help fight infection.

“We needed to answer questions like if we vaccinate earlier in life, will it last,” explained Ferris, “The answer is yes, this cancer prevention vaccine is working incredibly well 10 years later. A booster vaccine likely will not be needed by these young people. I think now we have come full circle.”

The new finding also supports previous research which suggests that a more widespread and earlier administration of the HPV vaccine, before teens and preteens are exposed to the infection, is the preferred option.

Although the disease can be cleared in around two-thirds of infected individuals, the virus can persist in the remaining one-third, potentially causing a wide range of further health problems.

The quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18, is designed to better arm the immune system to eliminate the virus.

According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV types 16 and 18 account for essentially all cervical cancer and for most other HPV-related cancers such as penile and anal cancers. Types 6 and 11 account for about 90 per cent of genital warts as well as non-cancerous tumour growths in the respiratory tract.

 

HPV is the most sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.A. Around 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HPV is also the most common cause of cervical cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first quadrivalent vaccine, Gardasil, in June 2006, with the vaccine currently approved for patients ages nine to 26.

 

Although the CDC reports that around 43 per cent of U.S. teens are up to date on recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, Ferris added that, “Now we need to push for more young people to get vaccinated. We are doing miserably in the United States.”

The HPV researchers added that the vaccine can be given along with the meningococcal and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines, to 11- and 12-year-olds.

The results can be found published online in the journal Pediatrics.

November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Superseed? Apricot kernels, touted as cancer cure, linked to cyanide poisoning

Author: Catherine Solyom
Date: November 22, 2017
Source: flipboard.com

Brendan Brogan had just returned from a shopping trip on the Plateau laden with exotic snacks.

On a visit to Montreal from California, he stood in the doorway of his buddy Mike Guetta’s room, munching away on something as they discussed the absurdities of the day.

Then Guetta looked up.

“Those better not be almonds,” he said. “You know I’m allergic to those.”

“No, no,” Brogan replied, “I would never do that. These are apricot pits.”

“What?!? Don’t eat those! They’re poisonous!”

Brogan pooh-poohed the warning, arguing the kernels were organic and he’d bought them at the health food store.

“Look! It’s the superseed of the Hunza people, with Vitamin B17!”

Then he turned the bag over and read the fine print. His face went grey: “Caution: Do not consume more than 2-3 kernels per day. Keep out of the reach of children. Pregnant and nursing women should not consume apricot kernels. Health Canada warns that eating too many apricot kernels can lead to acute cyanide poisoning.”

After a quick call to poison control, Brogan rushed to the nearest emergency room. He had eaten a third of the bag.

Apricot kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17.

Bitter apricot kernels — the pits of the pits — are widely available in Montreal health food stores, including at Rachelle-Béry branches across the city, where Brogan bought some. They are gluten-free, pesticide-free, vegan and organic.

They are also potentially lethal, as Brogan found out.

The kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17, though it’s more like an anti-vitamin.

When the seeds are chewed and digested, the amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the stomach. Eat too much of them — more than three apricot kernels for an adult and just one kernel for a toddler — and cyanide poisoning can occur.

Cyanide cuts off oxygen supply. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, mental confusion, weakness, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma and, eventually, death.

That’s why Australia, for one, has banned the sale of apricot kernels. But that didn’t stop a Melbourne man from slowly poisoning himself by ingesting 17 mg of homemade apricot kernel extract per day, in the mistaken belief that it would cure his prostate cancer. When doctors performed routine surgery on him in September, they found cyanide levels in his blood that were 25 times the accepted level.

Germany and the United Kingdom have also restricted the sale of apricot kernels, after a number of cases of children hospitalized for cyanide poisoning. In 2011, for example, a 28-month old girl was rushed unconscious to hospital in Turkey. She died in hospital of acute cyanide poisoning 22 days later. She had eaten 10 kernels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the sale of apricot kernels if  “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for its part, issued a recall and health hazard alert for Our Father’s Farm brand of apricot kernels in 2009, after a reported case of cyanide poisoning.

Since then the agency has received two more complaints of illness.

Packaging must now carry Health Canada’s warning label. But other brands have filled the void left by Our Father’s Farm.

 

Brogan bought the Organic Traditions brand of the kernel. Manually harvested and imported from Uzbekistan, the kernels are perhaps the “prized superseed” of the Hunza people. It says so right there on the packaging, along with the following claims: “contains vitamin B17” and “used in Ancient Asian medicine for centuries.”

In texts dating back to the 1930s that are rehashed by consumer direct and alternative health websites, the Hunza or Burusho people of the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan are said to live to be 140 and never get sick.

It must be because of the kernels, the story goes.

For example, a Facebook site liked by  997,744 people — titled “The truth about cancer” — says the Hunzas enjoyed near-perfect health.

“Some lived to be over 135 years old and no one in their clan had any of the conditions so common in the modern world, such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and cancer.” The website continues in bold lettering, noting that “they ate massive quantities of apricot seed kernels.”

Numerous other websites also claim that apricot kernels can prevent or cure cancer. The kernels are said to treat arthritis, boost your immune system and even serve as an aphrodisiac.

The truth about apricot seeds — and the Hunza people — is less rosy, however. A New York Times reporter who travelled to this Shangri-La in 1996 discovered a beautiful place indeed. But the elderly men who looked to be 140 were probably more like 70.

“The great Hunza secret to old age turned out to be its absence of birth records,” John Tierney wrote.

By  modern accounts, Hunza life expectancy is similar to other people in remote mountain regions who go through cycles of food scarcity — 50 to 60 years old.

On the seeds themselves, the science has been conclusive. Numerous studies show that amygdalin does kill cancer cells — and all other cells too.

Joe Schwarcz, the director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, said the initial idea — generating small amounts of cyanide to kill fast-multiplying cancer cells — was not a bad one. But it just doesn’t work, he said.

The sale of apricot seeds “clearly should not be allowed,” he said, surprised at how readily they are found on store shelves in Montreal.

Schwarcz says Health Canada is overwhelmed and useless at stopping the sale of bogus health remedies.

“With dietary supplements, they tend to say well, it’s not really dangerous, and let them be,” Schwarcz said, vowing to confront Health Canada about the sale of the seeds as a vitamin. “But this one is not in that category. You don’t need a lot of these kernels to do a lot of harm.”

A spokesperson for Health Canada said it is powerless to stop the sale of a product if its distributor does not claim any health benefits. It referred the Montreal Gazette to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The CFIA said it merely enforces Health Canada directives.

Neither agency would comment on why apricot seeds are sold in Canada at all — as vitamins or snacks — given their known toxicity.

 

Upon arrival at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Brogan was given a tall Styrofoam cup of charcoal then placed on a gurney in the hallway to monitor his condition.

No one, from the person who answered the phone at poison control to the triage nurse to the doctor on duty, could believe that apricot seeds were being sold in Montreal.

Eight hours later, Brogan was released from hospital with a $1,125 bill. He had no health insurance, he explained.

“Those seeds were the most expensive snack I’ve ever eaten.”

Guetta went back to Rachelle-Béry to alert them of the danger. The store manager seemed alarmed and immediately took all the remaining packages off the shelves.

But when Guetta returned a few weeks later, there they were again. The superseed of the Hunza people.

 

 

 

 

 

November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

3 Lessons From An Alarming Case Of Mistaken Cancer Gene Test Results And Surgery

Date: October 28, 2017
Source: Forbes.com
Author: Elaine Schattner

A horrifying story broke last week about a 36-year-old Oregon woman who had elective surgery to remove her uterus and breasts. Elisha Cooke-Moore underwent a prophylactic total hysterectomy and bilateral mastectomy, with nipple-sparing reconstruction and implants, after medical practitioners informed her she had cancer-causing genes. Only later, she learned she didn’t have the abnormality about which she’d been informed. There’s a lawsuit.

As reported in The Washington Post, Cooke-Moore expressed concerns to a doctor about her family’s cancer history before getting tested for mutations in BRCA-1, BRCA-2 and related genes in 2015. A nurse practitioner reviewed the results and erroneously told her she had Lynch syndrome because of an MLH1 mutation. BRCA testing was “negative.” It’s not clear if any doctor directly reviewed the lab report. An obstetrician-gynecologist informed Cooke-Moore that her chances of developing breast cancer were 50% and for uterine cancer up to 80%. In 2016, at least two surgeons operated.

Cooke-Moore discovered the mistake while looking over her medical records: The MLH1 result was “negative,” she noted in 2017. “I am damaged for the rest of my life,” Cooke-Moore told The Washington Post.

Never mind the specifics. While it sounds like the plaintiff received egregious care, and I am sympathetic, I see this as a larger story of confusion over genetic test results leading to irreversible harm. My aim here is not to probe Cooke-Moore’s results or the circumstances of her decisions, but to consider the lessons for other patients and doctors. This case should be a wake-up call about the quality of DNA testing and what variable guidance patients receive about their results. The implications are broad.

Checking genes for presence or absence of mutations is not straightforward as you might think. Mutations vary: They’re rarely “positive” or “negative,” end of story. Some doctors may not fully appreciate the nuances of genetic findings. While some DNA abnormalities are clearly linked to disease, such as mutations tied to cystic fibrosis or sickling of hemoglobin, often there’s a range of severity of illness and pathology among affected patients. Among the cancer risk genes, BRCA-1 and -2 are probably the best studied. Yet even for those, doctors don’t yet understand why some people who inherit BRCA mutations don’t develop cancer, i.e., what mitigates disease risk. Some changes are deemed variants of uncertain significance.

Given the enormity of this subject, I’ll focus on three practical measures to reduce regrettable outcomes after testing for cancer genetic risk.

  1. If you consider getting tested for familial cancer risk, ask where your sample will be evaluated, and exactly what genes will be tested.

The practitioner may or may not know the answer to these questions. But part of the point of asking is to ensure that the responsible physician or genetics counselor is clued in to the details because gene testing companies vary in their methods, which gene variants they report, how fully they report on those, and how they interpret any detected abnormalities.

Some companies, like Myriad Genetics, focus on BRCA and related cancer risk-associated genes. Myriad offer various testing panels to assess hereditary cancer risk. Some large and more general commercial laboratories, like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, offer BRCA-related panels (BRCAssure and BRCAdvantage, respectively). Ambry is another player in this field. More recently Color Genomics, a San-Francisco based company, entered the fray; they’ll check your BRCA status for less. Some universities and hospitals offer “in house” testing.

These labs (and this is not a comprehensive list) use distinct and sometimes proprietary ways of extracting DNA from samples, amplifying and analyzing genetic material. They employ different scientists who develop methods and interpret results variously in context of the rapidly-growing literature on cancer risk and cancer-related mutations. The doctor who orders genetic tests should be aware of these possible differences.

At the minimum, before making any decisions I’d want to know that my test was performed in a CLIA-certified laboratory.

  1. Before taking any treatment based on a genetic test result, hit the pause button. Get a copy of the full report and keep it. Ask questions. Try to get a second opinion.

Before agreeing to anything so drastic as prophylactic surgery, or taking medication aimed at reducing cancer risk, you might want to have the test repeated, to confirm or supplement initial results. Even nonprescriptive changes, like adjusting your diet, or participating in a clinical trial for people with specific genetic variants, carries possible benefits and risks. You might wind up taking a medicine, or getting screened in a way that you would not have otherwise.

Among the questions I’d want to ask a doctor are these: “How confident are you about the accuracy of my test result?” and “What are the implications for my health?”

Whenever possible, get a second opinion before a major procedure or treatment is implemented. Ideally, advice would come by a physician familiar with both the nitty-gritty of DNA testing and the relevant medical condition. Keep in mind, experts may have informed but distinct and biased perspectives on the significance of an abnormality, such as an MLH1 mutation. The most knowledgeable physicians may not have ready answers when it comes to interpreting DNA findings in context of an individual patient with a unique medical history and concerns. Consulting with a genetics counselor may also be helpful.*

  1. Use the web and other resources, including patient-oriented organizations, to learn what you can about your genetic results.Here’s a partial list of societies and websites that provide information about genetic testing for cancer risk:

Cancer.net offers information about hereditary cancer syndromes that is provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology;

FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) is a patient-oriented organization with many resources and detailed information for people affected by a familial disposition to developing breast, ovarian and other cancers;

The National Cancer Institute’s Genetics of Cancer page includes numerous links to NIH resources for particular cancer risk genes and syndromes;

National Society of Genetic Counselors details the role of genetic counselors and refers to several resources for patients;

The American Society for Human Genetics is a professional organization that offers general information on gene testing and links to additional resources.

I’m constantly amazed at the explosive field of diagnostic human genetic testing. Despite my concerns about the quality and guidance of interpreting results, I’m impressed by the power of diagnostic human genetic testing. For people who are ill, gene testing can be enormously helpful in establishing the cause of disease, pinpointing a diagnosis, and in some situations knowing how best to treat a medical condition. For those who have reason to worry about inheriting a disposition to disease, gene testing could offer life-saving information about pre-emptive or risk-reducing interventions. In each of these circumstances, informed guidance provided by doctors — in interpreting results and in clinical decision-making — is crucial.

 

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

A Wellness Blogger Who Lied About Having Cancer Has Been Fined $322,000

Source: Motherboard.vice.com
Author: Kaleigh Rogers
Date: September 28, 2017

There are serious consequences that come from hawking pseudoscience online, including harming your readers or yourself. But in case physical harm isn’t enough motivation to quit slinging shady “wellness” advice online, here’s another reason: you could wind up getting fined.

That’s what happened to disgraced Australian wellness blogger Belle Gibson, who has been fined $322,000 for claiming she treated her brain cancer without conventional medicine. Gibson had said she overcame an inoperable brain tumor, stroke, and cardiac arrests through clean eating, and avoiding dairy, gluten, and coffee. Conveniently, these claims helped her to sell her book The Whole Pantry, and app of the same name, raking in nearly half a million AUD. But in 2015, an investigation by Australian Women’s Weekly—complete with Gibson’s confession—revealed it was all a hoax.

In response, Consumer Affairs Victoria brought a case to federal court, and in March Gibson was found guilty of five breaches of consumer law. On Thursday, Gibson was ordered to pay the fine of $410,000 AUD ($322,000 USD).

It’s not the first time shady wellness tips have caused controversy for bloggers. Gwyneth Paltrow’s venture, Goop—the epitome of pseudoscience profiteering—has been called out for flogging all kinds of questionable goods, including a jade vagina egg that some gynecologists warned could cause infections.

Or the wellness trend of eating whole aloe vera leaves that led one vlogger to be hospitalized after eating a poisonous agave plant by mistake.

When wellness bloggers tell the truth, and really do try to fight off cancer without any conventional treatment, it doesn’t usually work out so well. A popular 30-year-old blogger died in 2015 after she tried to cure her cancer with coffee enemas and raw juices. And in case you’re inclined to trust your blogger of choice, lest we forget the former naturopath who told us how easy it was to create and sell a detox diet scam.

Wellness blogging is a trendy, profitable market right now, but let this be a warning: all that easy money can come at a price.

September, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer is a fungus’?! We need to get serious about evidence-based treatment

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Date: August 3rd, 2017
Author: Judith Potts

Over the last few years I have come across myriad myths about cures for breast cancer – indeed all cancers.  Of course, everyone is looking for a treatment which does not involve chemotherapy, a diagnostic test which does not use radiation, or a treatment without side effects.

While thermography may be an innovative concept, there is little good evidence that it is effective in detecting breast cancer at an early stageEluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now

But I have lost count of the number of times I have heard that ‘Cancer is a fungus and Sodium Bicarbonate is the cure’.  I have even been sent an amateur video of a man mixing his sodium bicarbonate potion in an extremely unhygienic-looking  kitchen. Part of the Cancer Research UK’s website carries ‘10 Persistent Cancer Myths Debunked’ which makes an interesting read –  . Alternative therapies abound and all are described as ‘natural’.

The word is applied to food, to beauty products and to fabrics – but, all too often, the list of ingredients denies the description. Last week, an email dropped into my inbox introducing me to Dr Nyjon Eccles and describing his work at his clinic in London’s Harley Street – The ‘Natural’ Doctor.  Was it referring to his treatments as being ‘natural’ in the sense of pure, unadulterated and complementary, or did he mean that he was born a ‘natural’ doctor?

I discovered that Dr Eccles is offering a breast cancer screening clinical test called ThermoCheck, a computer-assisted thermography which is ‘a 15 minute, painless, non-invasive, state of the art clinical test without any exposure to radiation’.  Dr Eccles believes the test can be used on women as young as 20 and it will “identify metabolic changes in the tissue and is a much earlier indicator of breast health compromise than traditional mammograms”.

He says that thermography may identify pre-cancerous changes; thermography, the website script goes, “looks for physiological irregularities, whereas mammography looks for anatomical irregularities.  The infra-red camera takes thermal images of the breasts which show a heat map of the surface of the skin detecting any metabolic changes and signs of abnormal blood vessels- which give off more heat than the surrounding tissue – at an early stage, possibly 6-10 years before a tumour is big enough to be seen on a mammogram.”

Needless to say, there is a price to this test – the initial breast thermography and consultation (up to 90 min) is £395, with a breast thermography scan (up to 30 mins) at £245. Added to this is Dr Eccles’ Breast Nutricheck, which is a home test kit which ‘identifies several nutrients that seem to impact on breast tissue health’. This costs £425.

With so much written about breast cancer, particularly about the genetic varieties, I am concerned that many women (I note that men are not included) – particularly the young – may be persuaded to undertake this test on a regular and expensive basis.  So I turned to Breast Cancer Now to find out whether or not thermography was an accepted and proven way to detect early breast cancer.

It seems to me that not enough has been done to compare thermography to mammography with ultrasound

Eluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now told me: “While thermography may be an innovative concept, there is little good evidence that it is effective in detecting breast cancer at an early stage – let alone that it could replace traditional mammography.  Any new screening test would need to demonstrate even greater sensitivity than mammography, as well as better accuracy in detecting breast tumours and distinguishing between cancerous and healthy cells.  Unfortunately, there is currently no evidence to suggest that thermography is capable of either.”

This lack of evidence has led to the Royal College of Radiology, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and The American Society of Breast Imaging specifically not endorsing the process.

One of the concerns raised is that women who undergo thermography may delay visiting their doctor with a significant symptom, or attending for screening, if they believe that thermography is an adequate replacement for a visit to the GP or a mammogram.

I brought these concerns to Dr Eccles, who said that thermography has been shown to have a better sensitivity for detecting existing cancers than mammography, and that the variable results may be because “some thermographic studies have not used accepted standardised protocols.”

Arguing that thermography should be offered by doctors alongside other structural scans, he told me: “It is simply not true that there is no evidence for thermography’s usefulness. It time for doctors to make honest and correct statements about mammography screening based on the latest evidence – i.e. the risks outweigh the benefits. Thermography is at the very least, a valuable non-invasive adjunctive tool to identify women at risk and help detect pre-cancerous changes in the breast. If used correctly, it has the potential to help us significantly reduce breast cancer incidence.”

Studies continue to be conducted in the USA to explore the potential of infrared imaging of the breast, but it seems to me that not enough has been done to compare thermography to mammography with ultrasound, breast MRI, or nuclear imaging. One day there might be and perhaps the results will vindicate Dr Eccles but, until we can be assured that thermography will give an accurate diagnosis, please remember that if you have a family history of breast cancer, regular screening or other interventions can be offered by the NHS at a younger age than the 49-50 age group at which invitations for mammograms arrive.

August, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Personalized cancer vaccines successful in first-stage human trials

Source: http://newatlas.com/cancer-personalized-vaccine-success-trial/50402/
Author: Rich Haridy
Date: July 9, 2017

A cancer vaccine is one of the holy grails of modern medical research, but finding a way to stimulate the immune system to specifically target and kill cancer cells has proven to be a difficult task. Now two recent clinical trials that have produced encouraging results in patients with skin cancer are are providing hope for the development of personalized cancer vaccines tailored to individual patient’s tumors.

Both studies focus on neoantigens, which are mutated molecules found only on the surface of cancer cells. Neoantigens prove to be ideal targets for immunotherapy as they are not present on healthy cells. A vaccine’s challenge is to train the body’s immune cells, known as T cells, to hunt and kill only those specific tumor cells that hold the target neoantigens.

In the first trial, at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, samples of tumors were taken from six patients with melanoma. The patients were identified as having a high risk for recurrence after first having their tumors removed by surgery. For each individual patient the researchers identified up to 20 neoantigens specific to a subject’s tumor.

Computer algorithms were then utilized to help the researchers select which specific neoantigens would best stimulate the body’s T cells. Those neoantigens were then synthesized, mixed with an adjuvant to stimulate immune response, and injected into the individual patients.

Four out of the six patients in this first trial displayed no recurrence of their cancer 25 months after vaccination. The other two patients did have a recurrence of cancer, although in those cases the cancer had already spread into their lungs. After a secondary treatment with the drug pembrolizumab, they also entered complete remission.

The second trial, by Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) in Germany, used a similar strategy that targeted neoantigens in 13 patients with melanoma. These vaccines targeted up to 10 specific neoantigens in each individual patient, and after 12 to 23 months eight subjects were cancer-free.

The vaccines in both studies successfully stimulated both kinds of cancer-killing T cells: the CD8+ cells and their CD4+ helper cells. The studies also found that the T cells were able to specifically target a patient’s tumor.

It’s still early stages in research terms, but these results are incredibly promising. With more, and broader, clinical trials set for the near future, it is yet to be seen how effective these kinds of personalized vaccines are across a wide range of different cancers. A larger clinical trial that also targets bladder and lung cancers is currently underway.

One of the big challenges to overcome, should this form of personalized treatment prove broadly successful, is the cost and time in developing these customized vaccines. Current estimates claim a single patient’s neoantigen vaccine costs up to $US60,000 to produce. In tandem with other new drug innovations, some patients could be paying several hundred thousand dollars for these treatments should they reach the market.

The time it takes to produce an individual vaccine is also a concern when considering how this treatment could be rolled out on a mass scale. It took several months to produce the vaccines in both studies, but the researchers are confident this time frame could be reduced to six weeks or less. However, this is still a significant amount of time if the process was to be rolled out on a large scale.

Pragmatic challenges aside though, these neoantigen vaccines could pave the way for an exciting new form of personalized cancer treatment. One that allows for specific tumors to be targeted by the immune system through customized vaccines.

The results of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute trial were published in the journal Nature, as were the results of the second trial by Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech).

July, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Study reveals high environmental cost of tobacco

Source: www.cnn.com
Date: May 31st, 2017
Author: Jacopo Prisco

Details of the environmental cost of tobacco are revealed in a study released Wednesday by the World Health Organization, adding to the well-known costs to global health, which translate to a yearly loss of $1.4 trillion in health-care expenses and lost productivity.

From crop to pack, tobacco commands an intensive use of resources and forces the release of harmful chemicals in the soil and waterways, as well as significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Its leftovers linger, as tobacco litter is the biggest component of litter worldwide.

“Tobacco not only produces lung cancer in people, but it is a cancer to the lungs of the Earth,” said Dr. Armando Peruga, who previously coordinated the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative and now works as a consultant. He reviewed the new report for the WHO.

Commercial tobacco farming is a worldwide industry that involves 124 countries and occupies 4.3 million hectares of agricultural land. About 90% of it takes place in low-income countries, with China, Brazil and India as the largest producers.

Because tobacco is often a monocrop — grown without being rotated with other crops — the plants and the soil are weak in natural defenses and require larger amounts of chemicals for growth and protection from pests.

“Tobacco also takes away a lot of nutrients from the soil and requires massive amounts of fertilizer, a process that leads to degradation of the land and desertification, with negative consequences for biodiversity and wildlife,” Peruga said.

The use of chemicals directly impacts the health of farmers, 60% to 70% of whom are women. This is especially prominent in low- and middle-income countries, where some compounds that are banned in high-income countries are still used.

300 cigarettes = one tree

Farming also uses a surprisingly large amount of wood, rendering tobacco a driver of deforestation, one of the leading causes of climate change.

About 11.4 million metric tonnes of wood are utilized annually for curing: the drying of the tobacco leaf, which is achieved through various methods, including wood fires. That’s the equivalent of one tree for every 300 cigarettes, or 1.5 cartons.

This adds to the impact of plantations on forest land, which the study describes as a significant cause for concern, citing “evidence of substantial, and largely irreversible, losses of trees and other plant species cause by tobacco farming.”

Deadly gases

In 2012, 967 million daily smokers consumed approximately 6.25 trillion cigarettes worldwide, the WHO estimates.”That means about 6,000 metric tones of formaldehyde and 47,000 metric tonnes of nicotine are released into the environment,” Peruga said.

Tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to be harmful. It also contains climate-warming carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides. “The combination of greenhouse gases from combustion is equivalent to about 1.5 million vehicles driven annually,” Peruga said.

Secondhand smoke is particularly deadly: It contains twice as much nicotine and 147 times more ammonia than so-called mainstream smoke, leading to close to 1 million deaths annually, 28% of them children.

Some of these pollutants remain in the environment (and our homes) as “third-hand smoke,” accumulating in dust and surfaces indoors, and in landfills. Some, like nicotine, even resist treatment, polluting waterways and potentially contaminating water used for consumption, the study notes.

Non-biodegradable litter

Tobacco litter is the most common type of litter by count worldwide.

“We calculate that two-thirds of every cigarette ends up as litter,” Peruga said.

The litter is laced with chemicals including arsenic and heavy metals, which can end up in the water supply. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable, and tossing one on the ground is still considered a socially acceptable form of littering in many countries.

The WHO estimates that between 340 million and 680 million kilograms of tobacco waste are thrown away every year, and cigarette butts account for 30% to 40% of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.

“In addition to that, there are 2 million tons of paper, foil, ink and glue used for the packaging,” Peruga said.

A way forward?

Even though smoking is declining globally, it is increasing in some regions, such as the eastern Mediterranean and Africa. China is a world leader both in production (44%) and consumption, with 10 times more cigarettes smoked than in any other nation.

Every stage of the production of a cigarette has negative effects on the environment and the people who are involved in manufacturing tobacco products, even before the health of smokers and non-smokers is affected.

Although governments worldwide already collect $270 billion in tobacco taxes a year, the WHO suggests that increasing tax and prices is an effective way of reducing consumption and help development priorities in each country, adding that by collecting 80 cents more per pack, the global tax revenue could be doubled.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a note. “It exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

May, 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.”

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Why won’t our doctors face up to the dangers of radiotherapy?

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1089091/Why-wont-doctors-face-dangers-radiotherapy.html

Author: Isla Whitcroft

It’s a life-saver for thousands – but the side-effects can be devastating.

A year after he’d undergone treatment for cancer of the tonsils, Richard Wayman felt a painful tingling in his legs. Within weeks, the 59-year- old shopkeeper was struggling to walk. He was admitted to hospital, where doctors carried out scans, X-rays and tests.

‘The scans revealed lesions on my lungs, which raised fears that the cancer had spread, so I was admitted to another hospital for a biopsy and, as a result, contracted MRSA and pneumonia,’ recalls Richard, from Colchester in Essex.

‘From 11-and-a-half stone I went down to eight-and-a-half stone. I thought I was never going to get out of there.’

Finally, the lung lesions were diagnosed as a side-effect of the radiotherapy Richard had undergone for his cancer. However, his problems only got worse: a few weeks after a routine tooth extraction, the bone around the extraction started to crumble and become infected.

Within months he had an open weeping wound, running from his lower cheek through his jaw and into his mouth. The diagnosis: bone necrosis as a direct result of radiotherapy damage to the jaw.

Richard is one of the many thousands of cancer survivors who have developed terrible conditions as a result of the radiotherapy treatment that helped save them.

Around 4 to 5 per cent of all head and neck cancer patients suffer problems with swallowing or breathing, fistulas (open holes) in the jaw and gum, loss of taste and hearing.

But the problem is not unique to these cancers. Up to 10 per cent of breast cancer patients suffer radiation damage to their heart, lungs or the nerves to the arms (leading to loss of circulation and movement).

Every year, another 6,000 patients who’ve had pelvic radiotherapy treatment for conditions such as bowel cancer suffer long-term damage (including incontinence). A thousand of these patients go on to suffer even worse problems, such as intestinal failure or heavy bleeding.

It is clear that radiation damage is a significant health care issue. Yet, to date, there has been no national attempt to collate statistics that would enable any significant research work to begin.

Remarkably, it is not even officially classified as a specific medical condition; nor is there any definitive information on how to deal with it.

As a result, when it comes to treating the problems, patients can be offered a mix of options. Some are treated by a urologist, others are referred to a gastroenterologist, or an ear, nose and throat expert, while women often see a gynaecologist. This means many people will go undiagnosed for months and often years.

‘Until recently, radiotherapy damage has not been a priority in the treatment of cancer,’ says oncologist Paul Cornes, who runs clinics for patients with radiotherapy damage.

‘It is not a deliberate cover up; but in the past, cancer medicine was all about the treatment and giving patients a chance of life. Now we must address quality of life after cancer.’

Dr Sylvie Delanian, a radiologist and oncologist at the Hospital St Louis in Paris, is one of the few radiologists around the world to research and treat the condition. ‘Long-term radiotherapy damage is a taboo subject,’ she argues.

‘Radiologists are often frightened to discuss the matter with patients in case they refuse treatment. There is also the feeling that “we’ve saved your life, now go away and live with the side-effects”.’

Indeed, some hospitals seem to actively discourage discussion about the subject. While we were investigating this article, one London trust refused to allow Good Health to speak to their specialist, while another major cancer centre barred us from a conference on pelvic radiotherapy damage.

Radiotherapy is an incredibly successful method of treating cancer, increasing survival rates by around 50 per cent. It works by bombarding the tumour or tumour site with X-rays to kill the dividing cancer cells. In doing so, it inevitably affects surrounding healthy cells.

But areas such as the bowel, lung and jaw seem to be more susceptible to long-term damage. The precise reason is not clear, although it is thought that the mucus which lines the bowel and the delicate sacs in the lung are extremely vulnerable.

Long-term damage can appear as fibrosis (an overgrowing of healthy cells as they go into overdrive to repair the radiotherapy damage) or necrosis (the death of the tissue, causing open holes or fistulas).

Radiotherapy can also damage nerves, reducing blood circulation or causing breathing difficulties, with side-effects often not appearing for several years after treatment.

When Alan Warren was diagnosed with rectal cancer four years ago, it was, understandably, very worrying. The taxi driver and father-of-two underwent chemotherapy, then radiotherapy, to shrink the tumour, before it was removed along with several inches of his bowel.

‘My oncologist said I would be back working within four months. Fours years on, I’m still unable to work,’ says Alan, 55.

During those years, Alan, from Christchurch, Dorset, has suffered unimaginable pain. He has also suffered the indignity of urine leaking out through his back passage after he developed an internal fistula 12cm long, running from the top of his bladder to what was left of his lower bowel.

An operation to close the fistula failed. After that, the only option was a permanent catheter.

‘My problems were all blamed on scar tissue from the original cancer surgery, so I was referred to a urologist for treatment.

‘By chance, Alan’s wife Jackie, a nurse, came across an article on radiotherapy damage. ‘My urologist reluctantly admitted that I probably did have it,’ says Alan.

In the UK treatment tends towards cutting out the afflicted area if necessary – which often results in more scar tissue and pain. But there are other options.

Jervoise Andreyev, a gastroenterologist at the Royal Marsden, London, uses anti-diarrhoea medication, pelvic exercises, antibiotics and dietary changes to treat the problem if it’s in the pelvis.

Meanwhile, Dr Delanian uses a combination of three drugs: vitamin E, pentoxifylline (for vascular and circulatory problems) and clodronate (bone disorders).

Her success rates are impressive, with research to back these up going back over a decade. After contacting the radiotherapy damage action group RAGE, Alan and Jackie found out about Dr Delanian, and in October last year they visited her in Paris. Thanks to treatment, by January 2008 Alan’s fistula was gone and he was healed.

Richard Wayman also saw Dr Delanian. Six months later, the hole in his face healed.

The leg weakness and tingling have stabilised, too.

But despite the fact that some UK doctors are quietly following her method, it is not a mainstream treatment, and many of her patients find that in the UK they are refused the drugs she prescribes.

In 2006, the Royal Marsden carried out a trial into Delanian’s treatment on breast cancer patients, but announced that it failed to show any significant improvement.

Paul Cornes says: ‘Newer radiation therapies such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton beam therapy deliver more accurate beams with significantly lesser side-effects.

‘Unfortunately, IMRT is not yet widely available in the UK, and proton beam therapy is considered too expensive for the NHS.’

Dr Delanian adds: ‘Radiation is a great tool, but can also be very dangerous. As a profession, we should try to find a way to minimise the risk and deal with the effects.’

 

Originally posted:  

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

December, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

We Now Know Exactly How Many DNA Mutations Smoking Causes

Every 50 cigarettes you smoke gives you one extra DNA mutation per lung cell.

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Source: The Verge
Author: James Vincent

A common tactic for people trying to give up smoking is to quantify exactly how much damage — financial or physical — each cigarette or pack of cigarette does. How much does smoking cost you per month, for example, or how much shorter is your life going to be for each drag you take? Well, a new study into the dangers of smoking now lets us measure this damage right down to the number of mutations in your DNA.

A research team led by scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory compared tissue samples from 1,063 non-smokers and 2,490 smokers, examining each individual’s DNA to look for mutations. They found that for every 50 cigarettes smoked, there is one extra DNA mutation for each cell in the lungs. Over the course of a year, this means that someone who smokes a pack a day (20 cigarettes) has 150 extra mutations per cell in the lung, 97 per larynx cell, 23 per mouth cell, 18 per bladder cell, and six per liver cell.

These changes to the cells aren’t dangerous in themselves, but each one has the potential to turn into a cancerous growth. “Smoking is like playing Russian roulette: the more you play, the higher the chance the mutations will hit the right genes and you will develop cancer,” Ludmil Alexandrov, the co-lead author of the study, told the New Scientist. “However, there will always be people who smoke a lot but the mutations do not hit the right genes.”

The reason for all these extra mutations is found in tobacco smoke — a substance that contains some 7,000 different chemicals, over 70 of which are known to cause cancer. How exactly different types of cell mutations lead to cancer is less clear, and the team from Los Alamos are hoping next to drill down further into this line of research and find out the probabilities that any individual DNA mutation will turn into cancer.

The good news for smokers, though, is that it’s never too late to quit. Although smoking causes regular DNA mutations, as soon as people give up cigarettes, the mutations stop too. One UK study from 2004 found that those who quit smoking at age 30 nearly eliminate the risk of dying prematurely, while those who quit at 50 halve it. For people trying to give up, those are certainly some more comforting odds.

 

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

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|