oral sex

Oral sex increases men’s risk of cancer, new study finds

Source: www.deccanchronicle.com
Author: staff

An alarming new study found men who have performed oral sex on five or more partners are at risk of head and neck cancer related to HPV, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

Johns Hopkins researchers warn men may not be aware of this risk, particularly if they smoke. “Among men who did not smoke, cancer-causing oral HPV was rare among everyone who had less than five oral sex partners, although the chances of having oral HPV infection did increase with number of oral sexual partners, and with smoking,” lead author Dr Amber D’Souza, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told the Daily Mail.

For the study, data was analysed of 13,089 people part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and tested for oral HPV. That information was compared to data with federal figures on oropharyngeal cancer diagnoses. The results indicated that men had a higher risk of developing the disease compared to women.

The new study’s findings suggest it is crucial for boys to get the HPV vaccine.

While there are 100 different kinds of HPV, only few cause cancer. HPV strains 16 and 18 trigger most cervical cancer. HPV16 also causes oropharyngeal cancer.

Identifying who is at risk is will help curb the disease. “For these reasons, it would be useful to be able to identify healthy people who are most at risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer in order to inform potential screening strategies, if effective screening tests could be developed,” Dr D’Souza told the Daily Mail.

Further research to explore oral HPV infection in young healthy men is currently being conducted.

The study was originally published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

October, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The scary reason doctors say kids need HPV vaccinations

Source: www.washingtonpost.com
Author: Sarah Vander Schaaff

When actor Michael Douglas told a reporter that his throat cancer was caused by HPV contracted through oral sex, two themes emerged that had nothing to do with celebrity gossip. The first was incredulity — since when was oral sex related to throat cancer? Even the reporter thought he had misheard. The second was embarrassment. This was too much information, not only about sexual behavior but also about one’s partners.

Douglas apologized, and maybe the world was not ready to hear the greater truth behind what he was suggesting.

That was four years ago.

Today, there is no doubt in the medical community that the increase in HPV-related cancers such as the one Douglas described — which he later explained was found at the base of his tongue — is caused by sexual practices, in his case cunnilingus. And there is an urgency to better treat and prevent what is becoming the one type of oral cancer whose numbers are climbing, especially among men in the prime of their lives who have decades to live with the consequences of their cancer treatment.

The number of people diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, tumors found in the middle of the pharynx or throat including the back of the tongue, soft palate, sides of throat and tonsils — is relatively small — about 12,638 men and 3,100 women in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But these numbers are expected to continue to rise, overtaking incidence of cervical cancer by 2020. One study revealed the presence of HPV in 20.9 percent of oropharyngeal tumors before 1990, compared with 65.4 percent in those sampled after 2000.

Alarming trend
It’s an alarming trend considering HPV, or human papilloma­virus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. The CDC estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women will get a form of the virus at some point. Although most HPV infections go away on their own, they are causing 30,700 cancers in men and women every year, including cervical, vaginal and penile cancers along with oral cancers.

Health agencies are pushing hard for HPV vaccinations, which they say could prevent most of those cancers. The CDC says all 11- and 12-year-olds should be ­vaccinated. And last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new two-dose series for children ages 9 to 14. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its vaccine recommendations to reflect that two-dose schedule, a reduction from the three shots previously required. (Children over 14 still need three shots.) The hope is to increase rates of completed vaccinations, which have lagged in the decade since the vaccines were released, averaging 42 percent for girls and 28 percent for boys, far below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80­ percent.

The patients showing up in Ben Roman’s office at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he works as a head and neck surgeon and ­health-services researcher, came of age not only before these vaccines hit the market, but also before HPV and its link to cancers was fully understood. These cases, experts say, probably reflect several separate but interconnected factors: the sexual revolutions of the 1920s and 1960s that introduced more HPV into the general population, the changing sexual practices of young people who report more histories of oral sex, and that it can take 10 to 30 years for tumors to develop after an infection.

Roman has seen an increase in a new type of head and neck cancer patient. They are typically white, middle-aged men, ­otherwise healthy, who have no history of smoking or drinking. They may have first noticed a mass in their necks or lymph nodes while buttoning a shirt or shaving. An ear, nose and throat doctor has determined the primary source of the cancer: the tonsils or base of the tongue.

“Most people are familiar with tonsils in the back of the throat,” Maura Gillison, a leading expert in HPV-related cancers at the ­University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said. “But we also have them in the base of the tongue.”

The palatine tonsils are on the sides of the throat, and there are also lingual tonsils on the back of the tongue. Both areas are made of the same lymphoid tissue at particular risk for HPV infection, and are part of what specialists call Waldeyer’s Ring.

Experts are not sure why an HPV infection in the tonsils is more likely to lead to cancer. It could be because of their anatomy, which has crypts and crevices, making it harder to clear an infection. Gillison said it could also be because of where the tonsils are in the body, an area that serves as a transition from the outside to the inside, much like the genital tract and cervix.

German researcher Harald zur Hausen identified the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer 34 years ago, work that earned him the Nobel Prize in 2008 and contributed to the development of the HPV vaccine. One of those types, HPV-16, is identified in more than half of cancers in the oropharynx, according to the National Cancer Institute.

But there are important distinctions between men and women when it comes to HPV-related cancers. Cervical cancer deaths, for example, have been greatly reduced through early detection with the use of Pap smears. The same screening for precursor lesions or pre-cancer is not yet possible for the oropharyngeal cancers, commonly referred to as OPC or OSCC, for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas.

The male risk
Another difference is how men and women respond to infection. The majority of women develop antibodies to clear HPV when exposed vaginally. These antibodies remain in the body so that a woman is protected from a subsequent oral infection. Men, in contrast, are much less likely to develop antibodies after genital exposure to the virus. When tested, their titers — a measurement of antibodies — are lower, leaving them five times more likely than women to have an oral infection.

HPV is considered an unusual virus because it does not travel through the bloodstream. Infection is localized, meaning it stays at the place where contact occurs. In tonsil cancer, then, oral sex becomes a relevant risk factor, so significant that in an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Gillison and her colleagues stated that the number of these oral sex partners in a lifetime is the behavior measure that is, “. . . most strongly, consistently, and specifically associated with OPC (tonsil and base of tongue).”

Treating a cancer related to a sexually transmitted infection brings up sensitive questions. Roman said a patient’s spouse will often pull him aside to ask: “When did he get this? Was he cheating?” He suggests the patient was probably exposed years ago. But from the viewpoint of prognosis, the HPV-related cancers respond better to treatment.

That fact has prompted rapid changes in treatment protocols that were as recently as five years ago based on heavy smoking and drinking. These new strategies back down from the aggressive radiation, chemotherapy and surgery that exposed patients to high toxicity and could damage the ability to speak and swallow.

When Gillison started her research in 2000, there was little awareness that sexual behavior contributed to cancer of the throat, and fellow researchers were skeptical.

“People were laughing. They thought it was absurd,” she said. Now, Gillison is credited with formally putting together the behavioral data and biomarkers to quell any skepticism, Carole Fakhry, an associate professor of otolaryngology and surgeon at Johns ­Hopkins, said.

Others had noted HPV in oral cavity cancer, but no one was sure whether it was a fluke or more significant. So Gillison reviewed tumor specimens collected by a colleague and then set out to study all of the available ­literature, presenting an analysis in 2009 that compared the ­survival rates of those with HPV-positive and -negative oropharynx cancers. Gillison describes her work — a confluence of observations in the lab and clinic — as an act of serendipity.

“I have always been interested in the association between ­infectious diseases and tumors because there are so many ­opportunities to intervene. If an infection causes a cancer, you can try to prevent infection in the first place, or screen, or if it’s developed you can use the fact that it’s associated with a virus — you can treat cancer by treating infection.”

As far as vaccination’s effect on preventing OPC in men, data is still under review. Officially, the vaccine is recommended for boys and young men to prevent genital warts and anal pre-cancers. But those focused on pediatrics, such as Margaret Stager, director of adolescent medicine at MetroHealth medical center in Ohio and an official spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that HPV vaccination clearly decreases spreading of HPV through the community, offering immediate, midrange and long-term benefits. And the current vaccines do protect against HPV-16, one of the high-risk types of the virus found in both cervical cancer and a majority of OPC.

New, easier vaccine
The new two-dose vaccination is designed to reach children when their antibody response is highest and make completion less cumbersome, as are electronic medical records that cue physicians when a vaccine is due. The District of Columbia is one of the few areas that has made the vaccine a required immunization for students in grades six through 12, although families may opt out.

There is still a gap in knowledge among some general ­practitioners and dentists, according to Gillison.

It is not uncommon for her to hear a story from a patient who comes to her after six months or so after going to his doctor.

“He told me not to worry ­because I was fighting off an infection. He gave me antibiotics. They were not working. Then ­another lump occurred next to that one . . . ”

The patient is young, healthy and doesn’t smoke. He has a sore throat and a neck mass that doesn’t respond to antibiotics.

Those in the front lines of ­medical practice, she said, should have in mind the question: Could this patient have head and neck cancer?

April, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Curbing oral cancer

Source:.businessmirror.com.ph
Author: Henrylito D. Tacio

“Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country today. Most of it can be prevented since its risk factors are lifestyle and environmentally related. Early detection of cancer is a crucial key to the survival and recovery of its victims. The earlier you detect the malignancy the higher the survival rate of the patient.”
—Dr. Vic Fileto Chua of Movement for Early Detection of Cancer

What’s the leading cause of oral cancer? Is it smoking or heavy drinking? Although smoking and drinking may cause oral cancer, the leading cause is oral sex, a sexual act that involves the stimulation of the genitalia using the mouth.

Studies have shown that 64 percent of cancers of the oral cavity, head, and neck in the United States are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is commonly spread via oral sex. The more oral sex you have – and the more oral sex partners you have – the greater the risk of developing these potentially deadly cancers.

oral_cancer

“An individual who has six or more lifetime partners—on whom they’ve performed oral sex—has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex,” explained Dr. Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University. Gillison headed a team of researchers who examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years ending in 2004. They found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to HPV surged to 72 percent from about 16 percent.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said that by 2020, the virus-linked throat tumors—which mostly affected men—will more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer.

“The burden of cancer caused by HPV is going to shift from women to men in this decade,” observed Gillison. “What we believe is happening is that the number of sexual partners and exposure to HPV has risen over that same time period.”

In his weekly column in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dr. Rafael D. Castillo noted: “Previously, it was well established that smoking (three-fold increase) and drinking alcohol (2.5 times) increased the risk for oral cancer, but even if you combine them, the risk is no match compared to that seen in those who frequently engage in oral sex.”

The government doesn’t have any data on the prevalence of oral cancer in the country but what alarms Castillo is that oral cancer might be rampant among young people. A study done by the University of the Philippines Population Institute showed that more than four million teenagers and young Filipinos are already engaged in sexual practices.

The findings of the third Young Adult Fertility Survey revealed that a total of 4.32 million Filipinos aged 15 to 24 are already sexually active. Another finding is that oral sex has become a common practice “among most sexually adventurous teens.”

“Doing simple math, if the expected prevalence of oral cancer in the general population is 1.5 percent, and with a nine-fold increase in risk, that means that we have approximately 583,000 young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 who are likely candidates to develop oral cancer,” Dr. Castillo surmised.

“Today’s teens consider oral sex to be casual, socially acceptable, inconsequential, and significantly less risky to their health than ‘real’ sex,” said Gillison. Teens simply think oral sex is “not that a big a deal,” added Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “Parents and health educators are not talking to teens about oral sex. Period.”

Members of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) also noted that the practice of oral sex can lead to infections of the oral cavity, which may result to cancer of the tonsils, tongue or throat.

“Any lesion in the mouth should be seriously considered,” said Dr. Anne Camus, PDA’s Manila dental chapter president. “Not all can develop to cancer but malignancy must always be taken as an imminent possibility.”

A regular check-up with a dentist would help detect malignancies in the mouth. “The dentists are usually the first to see lesions in the mouth of our patients,” Camus said. “At this early point, if the lesion turns out to be malignant, then chances are it is still curable.”

Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the: cheek lining, floor of the mouth, gums, and roof of the mouth (palate). Most oral cancers are a type called squamous cell carcinomas, which tend to spread quickly.

Aside from oral sex, smoking, and drinking, other factors that add to the risk of oral cancer include repeated irritation from the sharp edges of broken teeth, fillings, or dental prostheses (dentures). “The research regarding their involvement is uncertain. It is likely that there is a complex interaction of many external and internal factors that play a role in the development of oral cancer,” points out the Oral Cancer Foundation in the United States.

“Oral cancers are usually painless for a considerable length of time but eventually do cause pain,” notes “The Merck Manual of Medical Information.” “Pain usually starts when the cancer erodes into nearby nerves. When pain from cancer of the tongue or roof of the mouth begins, it usually occurs with swallowing as with a sore throat.”

The early growth of salivary gland tumors may or may not be painful. “When these tumors do become painful, the pain may be worsened by food, which stimulates the secretion of saliva,” the Merck manual informs. “Cancer of the jawbone often causes pain and a numb or pins-and-needles sensation, somewhat like the feeling of a dental anesthetic wearing off. Cancer of the lip or check may first become painful when the enlarged tissue is inadvertently bitten.”

Discolored areas on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth may be signs of cancer. “An area in the mouth that has recently become brown or darkly discolored may be a melanoma (malignant tumor),” the Merck manual states. “Sometimes, a brown, flat, freckle-like area (smoker’s patch) develops at the site where a cigarette or pipe is habitually held in the lips.”

“Keep in mind that your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems,” reminds the Oral Cancer Foundation. “Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. Should you discover something, make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.”

According to the US National Cancer Institute, oral cancer treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Some patients have a combination of these treatments.

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

HPV and mouth cancer

Source: www.hippocraticpost.com
Author: Thea Jourdan

hpv

Mouth cancer kills nearly 2000 people in the UK each year. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) of which there are over 100 different types, is more commonly associated with cervical cancer and genital warts, but it can also cause oral cancer, particularly of the back of the tongue and tonsils. The virus incorporates itself into the cell’s DNA and causes the cell to multiply out of control, leading to cancer.

In Britain, the number of mouth and throat cancers have increased by 40 per cent in just a decade, to 6,200 cases a year. According to Cancer Research UK, the HPV virus, which is transmitted to the mouth region from the genitals during oral sex, may be key to the ‘rapid rise’. Statistics also show that the more sexual partners you have the greater your chance of acquiring mouth cancer.

“There is now scientific evidence that a proportion of mouth and throat cancers are linked to HPV infection,” says Hazel Nunn, head of health information at Cancer Research UK. “We know that HPV is found in the mouth but we do not yet know how it gets there – whether through oral sex or otherwise. HPV virus has been found on the fingers and elsewhere on the body. It is possible that oral sex is having an impact but more research needs to be done into the kinds of behaviour that leads to this infection.”

“HPV has been causing mouth cancer for decades but the link is only now becoming clear. HPV is a hardy virus that likes sitting in lymphoid tissue wherever it is in the body,” explains Professor Mark McGurk, a senior consultant ENT surgeon based at London Bridge Hospital in London. That means it thrives in the lymphoid tissue in the mouth, including that of the tonsils and at the base of the tongue. For the same reason, it settles in the cervix, the vulva and around the anus.

For many people, HPV won’t cause any problems at all. “In fact, we know that 80 per cent of women and men will have the HPV infection at some time in their lives and clear it themselves without any symptoms,” explains Mr Mike Bowen, a consultant obstetrician and gynacologist based at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in London. “But for a few it can cause cellular changes that lead to cancer.”

Professor McGurk says that over the last 30 years, he has seen a rise in oropharyngeal cancer, which typically affects sexually active men in their 50s and 60s. “They may have been infected with the virus for some time and ,” he explains. The cancer reveals itself as growths on the tonsils and back of the tongue.

Many patients are only diagnosed at the late stage of their disease. Michael Douglas, the actor, already had stage 4 cancer when his cancer was recognized. Fortunately, oral cancer caused by HPV is very treatable, even when it is very advanced, using radiotherapy. “We used to do surgery on these cases, but we don’t need to anymore. In many cases, the cancer simply melts away with radiotherapy,” explains Professor McGurk. Patients with stage 1 and 2 Oral cancer caused by HPV have an 85 per cent chance of surviving for 5 years after treatment, and patients with stage 4 disease have a 60 per cent chance of surviving five years – impressive compared to the survival rates for other types of oral cancer where overall survival is 50 per cent over 5 years. [Cancer Research UK]

Cancer research UK is pushing for all mouth tumors to be tested to see if they are HPV positive, to assist with effective treatment of patients. “At the moment, it varies massively depending on what hospital you are in. We think it should be standard,” says Hazel Nunn.

Professor McGurk believes there is a simple explanation why men are more likely to have HPV in their mouths than women. “Women harbor the virus in their genitalia which provides a hospitable environment while the male penile area is a relatively hostile area for the virus to settle.”

One way to try and turn the tide would be to introduce a HPV vaccination for boys and girls before they become sexually active. Girls from the age of 12 in the UK have been offered vaccinations since 2008 against the two most common strains of HPV -16 and 18- which are linked to cervical cancer.

Boys are not offered the vaccine, but this should change, according to Professor Margaret Stanley, a virologist based at Cambridge University who believes that boys must be given the vaccine for HPV too from the age of 12 or 13.

‘Obviously cervical cancer is the big one but the other cancers – cancers of the anus and increasingly the tonsil and tongue – there is no screening for them and no way of detecting them until they are proper cancers and they are more common in men than in women.’

Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK points out that there is no evidence that vaccinating boys will help protect them from oral cancer. “It is theoretically possible but there have been no trials that had this as an end point. There is a danger that we get too far ahead of ourselves without evidence-based medicine.”

She insists that although HPV is a worrying factor, by far the most significant risks associated with mouth and throat cancers of all types are smoking and alcohol. “

November, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

HPV is changing the face of head and neck cancers

Source: www.healio.com
Author: Christine Cona
 

A drastic increase in the number of HPV-associated oropharynx cancers, particularly those of the tonsil and base of tongue, has captured the attention of head and neck oncologists worldwide.

In February, at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium in Chandler, Ariz., Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, professor and Jeg Coughlin Chair of Cancer Research at The Ohio State University in Columbus, presented data that showed that the proportion of all head and neck squamous cell cancers that were of the oropharynx — which are most commonly HPV-positive cancers — increased from 18% in 1973 to 32% in 2005.

9ea467bbf8646a69da2a432f8fcc5452Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, Jeg Coughlin Chair of Cancer Research at The Ohio State University, said screening for HPV in the head and neck is years behind cervical screening for HPV.

 

In addition, studies from the United States, Europe, Denmark and Australia indicate that HPV-positive patients have a more than twofold increased cancer survival than HPV-negative patients, according to Gillison.

With the rising incidence of HPV-related oropharynx cancers, it will soon be the predominant type of cancer in the oral or head and neck region, according to Andy Trotti, MD, director of radiation oncology clinical research, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, in Tampa, Fla.

“We should be focusing on HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer because it will dominate the field of head and neck cancers for many years,” he said during an interview with HemOnc Today. “It is certainly an important population for which to continue to conduct research.”

Because HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer is emerging as a distinct biological entity, the recent rise in incidence will significantly affect treatment, and prevention and screening techniques, essentially reshaping current clinical practice.

Social change driving incidence

In the analysis performed by Gillison and colleagues, trends demonstrated that change in the rates of head and neck cancers was largely due to birth cohort effects, meaning that one of the greatest determinants of risk was the year in which patients were born.

The increased incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma started to occur in birth cohorts born after 1935, indicating that people who were aged in their teens and twenties in the 1960s were demonstrating increased incidence, Gillison said.

“Two important and probably related events happened in the 1960s. In 1964, the surgeon general published a report citing smoking as a risk factor for lung cancer, and public health policy began promoting smoking cessation along with encouragement not to start smoking,” she told HemOnc Today.

If you were 40 years old between 2000 and 2005, your risk for having HPV-related cancer is more than someone who was between the age of 40 and 45 years in 1970, according to Gillison. Social changes that occurred among people born after 1935, for example, a reduction in the number of smokers, is consistent with the increasing proportion of oropharyngeal cancers that were HPV-related.

“The rates for HPV-related cancers began to increase and the rates for HPV-unrelated cancers started to decline, consistent with the known decline in tobacco use in the U.S. population,” she said.

Now, most cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in non-smokers are HPV-related; however, oral HPV infection is common and is a cause of oropharyngeal cancer in both smokers and non-smokers, research shows.

In addition to a decrease in tobacco use reducing HPV-unrelated oral cavity cancers, the number of sexual partners may have increased during this time and have helped to increase HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers, according to Gillison.

Determining the cause of the elevated incidence is only a small piece of the puzzle. Screening, establishing who is at risk, and weighing vaccination and treatment options are all relevant issues that must be addressed.

Screening is problematic

A critical area for examination and research is the issue of screening for oral cancers. In contrast to cervical cancer, there is no accepted screening that has been shown to reduce incidence or death from oropharyngeal cancer, according to Gillison.

Not many studies have examined the issue of screening for HPV-unrelated oral cancers, and the few that have, tend to include design flaws.

Gillison said there is a hope that dentists would examine the oral cavity and palpate the lymph nodes in the neck as a front-line screen for oral cancer; however, in her experience, and from her perspective as a scientist, this has never been shown to provide benefit for oral cancer as a whole.

Another caveat with regard to HPV detection is that head and neck HPV screening is about 20 years behind the cervical field.

“Clinicians screening for HPV in the field of gynecology were incredibly fortunate because Pap smear screening was already an accepted cervical cancer screening method before HPV was even identified,” she said. “There was already a treatment algorithm: If there were cytologic abnormalities, patients were referred to the gynecologist, who in turn did a colposcopy and biopsy.”

A similar infrastructure does not exist for oropharyngeal cancer. People with HPV16 oral infection are at a 15-fold higher risk for oropharynx cancer and a 50-fold increased risk for HPV-positive head and neck cancer, yet there is no algorithm for treatment and management of these at-risk individuals, Gillison said.

In 2007, WHO said there was sufficient evidence to conclude that HPV16 was the cause of oropharynx cancer, but with no clinical algorithm already established, progress in this area is much further behind.

Another problematic aspect of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer screening is that the site where the cancer arises is not accessible to a brush sampling, according to Gillison.

“To try to find this incredibly small lesion in the submucosal area that you cannot see and cannot get access to with a brush, highlights that we need to develop new techniques, new technologies and new approaches,” she said.

The near future consists of establishing the actual rates of infection in the oral cavity and oropharynx, and then screening for early diagnosis, according to Erich Madison Sturgis, MD, MPH, associate professor in the department of head and neck surgery and the department of epidemiology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“I am not extremely hopeful because the oropharyngeal anatomy makes screening complicated, and these cancers likely begin in small areas within the tonsils and the base of the tongue,” Sturgis told HemOnc Today. “I am hopeful, however, that preventive vaccines will eventually, at a population level, start to prevent these cancers by helping people avoid initial infection by immunity through vaccination earlier in life.”

Much of the currently known information surrounding the issue of HPV-related oral cancers is new, so researchers continue to conduct research in various relevant areas. One key question to answer is who may be at higher risk for HPV-related oropharynx cancers.

Who is at risk?

As mentioned earlier, the number of oral sex partners seems to play a role in the risk for contracting the HPV virus.

In one study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, findings demonstrated that a high lifetime number of oral sex partners (at least six partners) was associated with an increased risk for oropharyngeal cancer (OR=3.4; 95% CI, 1.3-8.8).

In addition to a higher number of oral sex partners, other still unknown factors may be contributing to risk. This is an area that needs further research, according to Barbara Burtness, MD, chief of head and neck oncology, and professor of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

The effect of smoking status is another area that needs further research. According to Burtness, smokers with HPV-associated oropharynx cancer have less favorable outcomes.

When discussing the prognosis of HPV-associated cancers, Sturgis said low risk is defined as low or no tobacco exposure and positive HPV status, and intermediate risk is defined as significant tobacco exposure but an HPV-positive tumor, and the highest risk group appears to be the HPV-negative group.

Although HPV-negative cancers are overwhelmingly tobacco-related cancers and tend to have multiple mutations, it appears that HPV-positive cancers, particularly those in patients with low tobacco and alcohol exposure, tend to lack mutations and to have a better prognosis, and this may ultimately help to guide treatment practices, according to Sturgis. Yet, there is still much to learn about HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers on various fronts.

Vaccination a hopeful ally

In HPV-related head and neck cancer, particularly oropharynx cancers, more than 90% of patients who have an HPV-type DNA identified, have type 16, according to Sturgis.

The two current HPV vaccines, Gardasil (Merck) and Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline), which are approved for cervical cancers, include HPV types 16 and 18; therefore, in theory, they should be protective against the development of infections in the oropharynx and protective at preventing these HPV-associated cancers from occurring.

The presumption is that if there was a population-wide vaccination against HPV, there would be less person-to-person transmission, and this would lead to fewer oropharynx cancers, according to Burtness, who said this theory still needs further research.

There is excitement at the possibility that therapeutic vaccines could be developed, and various groups are investigating this, Burtness added.

“There is reason to think that the vaccines may be helpful; however, when HPV infects the tonsillar tissues, it exerts control in the host cells by making two proteins: E6 and E7; so another potentially exciting therapeutic avenue would be to target those specific viral proteins,” she told HemOnc Today.

Anxiety about protection from the HPV virus is palpable, according to Sturgis. He described the worry that many patients experience about contracting and transmitting HPV infection.

“Many patients are concerned they will put their spouses and/or children at risk in ways such as kissing them; and we need to tone down those worries until we have better data,” he said.

Screening and vaccination are fundamental aspects of current ongoing research, but of equal importance is determining what clinicians should do to treat a population of patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.

HPV status may influence treatment

With rates of HPV-related cancers escalating, determining the appropriate treatment for these patients is crucial.

During the past 10 years, findings from retrospective studies have shown that patients with HPV-related cancers have a much better prognosis than patients who test negative for HPV. Findings from several retrospective analyses from clinical trials conducted during the past 2 years have come to the same conclusion, according to Gillison: HPV-positive patients have half the risk for death compared with patients negative for HPV.

Therefore, there may be several alternative treatment options, including the possibility of reducing the dose of radiation given to patients after chemotherapy, thereby reducing toxicity.

Comparing HPV-negative and HPV-positive patients may not be enough to determine proper treatment, researchers said. Data between different cohorts of HPV-positive patients also needs to be examined. Smoking, for example, may play a role in patient outcome.

In a prospective Radiation Therapy Oncology Group clinical trial (RTOG 0129), presented by Gillison at the 2009 ASCO Annual Meeting and recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine (see page 53), researchers conducted a subanalysis of the effect of smoking on outcome in uniformly staged and treated HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients while accounting for a number of potential confounders. HPV-positive patients who were never smokers had a 3-year OS of 93% compared with heavy smoking HPV-negative patients who had an OS of 46%.

The study found that smoking was independently associated with OS and PFS. Patients had a 1% increased risk for death and cancer relapse for each additional pack-year of smoking. This risk was evident in both HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients. Gillison said smoking data must be paid attention to, and she encouraged cooperative group research on the topic.

Most of the findings demonstrate improved outcomes for patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers vs. patients with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancers, according to the experts interviewed by HemOnc Today.

Dose de-intensification for less toxicity

To date, there is no evidence that HPV-related cancers should be managed differently than HPV-unrelated cancers, but it is a hot topic among clinicians in the field, according to Burtness.

The superior outcomes for HPV-associated oropharynx cancer have suggested the possibility of treatment de-intensification. The use of effective induction chemotherapy may permit definitive treatment with a lower total radiation dose. In theory, this would reduce the severity of late toxic effects of radiation, such as swallowing dysfunction. Such a trial is being conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. Burtness said this is currently pure research question.

“There is still much research that needs to be done before clinicians can safely reduce the dose of radiation administered to HPV-positive patients,” Burtness said.

Currently, she and colleagues in the ECOG are conducting a study of patients with HPV-associated stage III or IV oropharynx cancers to examine the possibility of tailoring therapy to these patients. Patients are assigned to one of two groups: low-dose intensity-modulated radiotherapy 5 days per week for 5 weeks (27 fractions) plus IV cetuximab (Erbitux, ImClone) once weekly for 6 weeks, or standard-dose intensity-modulated radiotherapy 5 days per week for 6 weeks (33 fractions) plus IV cetuximab once weekly for 7 weeks.

If patients have a very good clinical response to chemotherapy, which is likely to happen with HPV-associated cancers, they are eligible to receive a reduced dose of radiation, and hopefully, they would experience less adverse effects, Burtness said.

“Patients who are treated with the full course of radiation for head and neck cancer are now getting 70 Gy, and they are often left with dry mouth, and speech and swallowing difficulty,” she said. “We are hopeful that if these particular cancers are treatment responsive to chemotherapy, we may be able to spare the patient the last 14 Gy of radiation.”

Immunotherapy a viable treatment

Another possible treatment technique that may benefit patients with HPV-related cancers is immunotherapy. One form of immunotherapy uses lymphocytes collected from the patient, and training the cells in the laboratory to recognize in this case a virus that is associated with a tumor and consequently attack it. This approach potentially may be used to treat HPV-related oropharynx cancers, according to Carlos A. Ramos, MD, assistant professor at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

“With some infections that lead to cancer, even though the virus is present in the tumor cells, the proteins shown to the immune system are limited; therefore, they do not drive a very strong immune response,” Ramos told HemOnc Today. “Training the immune system cells, T lymphocytes, may make them respond better to antigens.”

Data from ongoing trials that are taking T lymphocytes from patients and educating them to recognize antigens in patients with the Epstein-Barr virus associated tumors have shown some activity against them, according to Ramos. This adoptive transfer appears to be safe and may have the same effect on the HPV virus associated tumors. Immunotherapy does not cause the usual toxicities associated with chemotherapy, he said.

“There are currently no trials showing whether we can prevent more recurrences with this approach, but the results of trials examining viruses such as Epstein-Barr are good so far, in both patients who have no evidence of disease and in those who still have disease,” he said.

Even patients with active disease who have not responded to other therapies have responded to this therapy, Ramos said. He and colleagues are working toward compiling preclinical data to study the possibility of using immunotherapy to treat patients with HPV-related cancers.

Journey is just beginning

Much of what is known about risk, screening, prevention and treatment of HPV-related oropharynx cancers is in the early stages of discovery and much is still theoretical, according to Sturgis.

“As far as we can tell, these infections are transmitted sexually; the hope is that as we have better vaccines for prevention of cervical dysplasia, the downstream effect will help prevent other HPV-related cancers, such as anal cancers and penile cancers and oropharyngeal cancers,” he said.

Several recent studies examining new therapies that may reduce the intensity of traditional treatments while maintaining survival rates would have a major effect on the field, according to Sturgis.

Gillison said the rise in the number of cases of HPV-related cancers is changing the patient population considered to be at risk, and more research is vital.

“The most important thing for clinicians to do is be aware that trials are being developed and strongly encourage their patients to participate,” she said.  Christen Cona

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

June, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

A cancer on the rise, and the vaccine too late for Gen X

Source: www.cnn.com
Author: Martha Shade
 
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(CNN)The vaccine given to prevent cervical cancer in women could end up saving men’s lives, too.

Evidence is mounting that the HPV vaccine is also effective in preventing other HPV-related cancers, including those of the head and neck. Although most people who get HPV do not develop cancer, rates of HPV-related head and neck cancers are dramatically rising for men aged 40 to 50, according to Dr. Maura L. Gillison, the Jeg Coughlin Chair of Cancer Research at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When Gillison recently gave a presentation showing the increasing rate of HPV-related head and neck cancer among men, her audience was shocked. “I’ve never shown a slide where the audience gasps,” she said.

Related: Yes, oral sex can lead to cancer

“The risk of getting this cancer is strongly related to when you were born. If you are currently a 40- to 45-year-old man, your risk of getting this cancer is dramatically higher than a 40- to 45-year-old man three or four decades ago,” Gillison said.

Today’s 40- to 50-year-old men have had more sexual partners and have engaged in more oral sex than previous generations, according to experts, significantly raising their risk of an HPV-related head and neck cancer.

Actor Michael Douglas made headlines in 2013 when he announced he was battling an HPV-related cancer and that he got it from performing oral sex. Douglas was 68 when he was diagnosed, but many of the men being diagnosed with these HPV-related cancers are much younger.

What’s a Gen X’er to do?

HPV is usually acquired when young. It can lay dormant, and most oropharyngeal cancer (a type of head and neck cancer) is diagnosed decades later, beginning around age 40 to 50. And the more partners you have, the greater your risk.

HPV vaccines weren’t recommended and approved in the United States until 2006. And the vaccine was not even recommended for boys until 2011.

So what’s an aging Gen X’er to do?

“You’re starting to get colonoscopies; you’re starting to get checked for prostate cancer. This is one more thing to add to that list that you really have to watch for,” said Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Warning signs of HPV-related head and neck cancer

• Persistent lump on neck

• Persistent earache on one side

• Swelling or lump in the mouth

• Chronic sore throat

• Difficult or painful swallowing

• Change in voice

Source: Oral Cancer Foundation, Dr. Carole Fakhry

Symptoms of HPV-related head and neck cancer include a change in voice, a sore throat that doesn’t go away, an earache on one side and difficult or painful swallowing.

Hill’s story is typical: His doctors initially assumed he had an enlarged lymph node due to an infection. Two doctors gave him antibiotics before he was diagnosed with late-stage oropharyngeal cancer. His experience led him to form the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Finding the disease at an early stage is lifesaving. When it’s diagnosed early, these HPV-related cancers are survivable, according to Dr. Carole Fakhry of the Johns Hopkins Head & Neck Cancer Center. “If you have a lump in your neck, make sure to get checked.

“A very common story is: ‘I was shaving and I noticed this lump in my neck,” she said. “And he goes through two or three rounds of antibiotics and then someone finally thinks about cancer.”

‘Dental hygienists are becoming the best screeners’

Traditionally, cancers of the head and neck were often linked to alcohol or smoking, and these non-HPV cancers tend to be located at the front of the mouth and the voice box. Incidence of these cancers are dropping.

“The truth of the matter is that smoking-related cancers are declining,” Fakhry said. “On the other hand, cancers related to HPV are increasing.”

HPV-related cancers usually originate in the back of the mouth. “Most of these cancers are tonsils and back-of-tongue cancers,” she said. “Tonsils are basically these crypts, and tumors grow deep within these crypts, so these tumors can be hard to find.”

Since tumors are often hidden, dentists and dental hygienists are becoming the first line of attack. Men may also be more likely to visit a dentist regularly than a doctor, according to Hill.

“Dental hygienists are becoming the best screeners for this. They’re becoming the point at the end of the spear when it comes to screening and finding abnormalities,” he said.

Dentists and hygienists are encouraged to look for telltale signs of HPV-related cancer: asymmetrical or swollen tonsils, or a lesion in the back of the throat. But these cancers are notoriously tough to spot and tend to be diagnosed after patients develop a lump in the neck.

So what can you do?

“Make sure you get your kids vaccinated (for HPV),” Fakhry said.

Dr. Dan Beachler, lead author of a new study that found further evidence the HPV vaccine protects against multiple types of HPV-related cancers, agrees: “We still don’t know that much about oral HPV. Primary prevention through vaccination might have the most potential.”

Besides the cervix and the head and neck, some strains of HPV can also lead to cancer of the anus, penis and vulva.

A preventive HPV vaccine is most effective when given to children before they become exposed to HPV. The three dose series is recommended at age 11 or 12.

Initially recommended just for girls, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that boys be vaccinated, too. In addition, vaccination is recommended through the age of 26 in women and through age 21 in men who were not vaccinated previously.

“Young people do not avoid oral sex. That being a given, the best thing we can do is increase the vaccination rate. The second thing we can do is be highly aware of signs and symptoms,” Hill said.

And don’t panic. Although HPV-related cancers are on the rise, they’re still uncommon.

“Even though the rates are dramatically increasing, it’s still a relatively rare cancer. We don’t want to create a panic. We just want to raise awareness,” Gillison said.

Professor Harald zur Hausen: Nobel scientist calls for HPV vaccination for boys

Source: www.independent.co.uk
Author: Charlie Cooper & Gloria Nakajubi
 

The UK should vaccinate all boys against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovered the link between HPV and cancer has said.

Professor Harald zur Hausen, the German virologist whose theory that HPV could be a cause of cervical cancers led to global efforts to vaccinate girls against the virus, said that boys should also be protected.

There is now a wealth of evidence that HPV also causes cancers in men, including anal, penile and throat cancer. Professor zur Hausen added that there was now a chance to “eradicate” HPV viruses altogether if the world developed global vaccination programmes for all children.

Since 2008 the UK has offered free vaccinations against HPV to girls aged 12 to 13 – a programme that had an almost 87 per cent uptake from 2013 to 2014 and has led to falls in the number of pre-cancerous abnormalities of the cervix, according to research carried out among vaccinated girls in Scotland.

Capture

Vaccine authorities in the UK, traditionally an international leader in the field of immunisation, are yet to make a judgement on a publicly funded vaccination programme for boys, which would follow in the wake of those already in place in Australia, Austria, Israel and parts of Canada.

HPV is the name for a common group of viruses that can affect the moist membranes of the cervix, anus, mouth and throat. It is usually spread through sexual contact.

Most sexually active people will contract it in their lifetime but usually it causes no ill-effects. However, in some cases it causes changes to cells, which can become cancerous. It is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer, a discovery made by Professor zur Hausen in the 1970s, for which he won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2008.

Speaking to HPV Action, in an interview to be published by the campaign group this week, Professor zur Hausen said that vaccinating boys was of “the utmost importance”, not only because boys can also contract HPV-related cancers of the throat, anus and penis, but because protecting boys is key to ending transmission of the virus altogether.

“The vaccination programme for girls [in the UK] is marvellous – it reaches a very high proportion,” he said. “In my opinion, the vaccination of boys is also of the utmost importance because virus transmission is due to male partners and men are affected by oropharyngeal [cancers of the throat], anal and penile cancers as well as genital warts.”

Last year the UK’s vaccination authority, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), recommended that the UK introduce a vaccination programme for gay men, to be delivered via sexual health clinics. The rationale behind the recommendation is that heterosexual men will be protected from HPV infection because most women will have been immunised, but that men who have sex with men will miss out on “herd immunity”.

However, campaigners and some experts say this reasoning is flawed, as many gay men will have been sexually active before their first visit to a sexual health clinic, and would most likely have already contracted or transmitted the virus.

The JCVI is due to consider the cost-effectiveness of vaccination for boys but campaigners do not anticipate any decision until 2017.

However, the NHS in London is currently planning what would be the first pilot of routine HPV vaccination for boys, with a likely start date of February 2016. The “field test” will work across four sites to establish whether school-age young males would “embrace the uptake of HPV vaccination as part of a community programme”, NHS England’s London office said.

Rolling out the vaccine to boys would require a public-information campaign because it has previously been presented to parents and children as a girls-only jab to prevent cervical cancer.

Scientists say changes in sexual behaviour – with more couples having oral and anal sex – may be the cause of increased cases of anal and throat cancers in both men and women in recent decades.

Margaret Stanley, emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge and a leading expert on HPV, said that cases could continue to rise. “It’s very much under-thirties [having more anal and oral sex] so you can predict there will be a rise in both those cancers. It’s a time bomb,” she said. “Wider exposure to different sexual practices – in other words porn on the internet – is also changing sexual behaviour in teenagers.”

HPV is also the cause of genital warts, the second-most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. There are nearly 90,000 cases annually, costing the NHS around £55m. Campaigners hope that figure will be taken into account when the JCVI weighs up the cost-effectiveness of a vaccination programme.

Despite safety concerns being raised about the vaccine’s alleged side effects in some parts of the world, including Japan, no causal links have been established between the vaccine and reported long-term health problems. It is approved by the World Health Organisation, as well as European and UK vaccine-safety authorities. Professor zur Hausen added that it was “one of the safest vaccines we have”.

8-Injection-GetRolling out the vaccine to boys would require a public-information campaign because it has previously been presented to parents and children as a girls-only jab to prevent cervical cancer (Getty)

 

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The HPV-prevention programme is key in helping us prevent cervical cancer. We have successfully given more than a million doses in the UK since 2008.

“Our independent vaccination experts are assessing whether it should be extended to prevent cancers in adolescent boys, men who have sex with men, or both.”

Time for an update?

Parents are currently advised and asked for consent for their daughters to have the HPV vaccination through a form and information leaflet sent out via schools.

The vaccine’s preventative effects against cervical cancer and the protection it offers against genital warts are explained. The protection against other cancers is not mentioned.

Parents and children are told that the vaccine, which is now given in just two doses instead of three, protects against 70 per cent of cervical cancers and that girls will still require cervical screening tests when they are older. Newer versions of the vaccine may protect against more cases in the future.

Parents are told that the vaccine may cause “soreness, swelling and redness in the arm” that will wear off in a couple of days. The leaflet states that “more serious side effects are extremely rare” and reassures parents that it meets European and UK safety standards. However, parents have the option to deny permission for their daughters to have the jab – and are told it would be “helpful” if they gave reasons for refusal.

The leaflet is directly targeted at girls and their parents and focuses on cervical cancer. If the Government were to extend the HPV-vaccination programme to boys, they would have to reconsider how the vaccine was presented to parents and children. The current programme has had impressive uptake, possibly in part because the key reason for taking the vaccine – to prevent cervical cancer – is straightforward and well understood. It may be that in a new HPV vaccination programme, the jab could be presented more broadly as protection against “a range of cancers”.

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

Head and neck cancer on rise in young men

Source: www.healthcanal.com
Author: staff

“The head and neck cancers we have found in younger men with no known risk factors such as smoking are very frequently associated with the same HPV virus that causes cervical cancer in women.” said Kerstin Stenson, MD, a head and neck cancer surgeon at Rush and a professor of otolaryngology at Rush University. The cancer develops from an HPV infection, likely acquired several years earlier from oral sex.

“Men are more susceptible to these cancers because they don’t seem to have the same immune response as women and do not shed the virus like women do,” Stenson said.

‘Epidemic proportions’
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are usually caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV.

“There has been significant change in the last decade. Overall, head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 to 5 percent of all cancers, but what’s changed in the past decade is the HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer. It has reached epidemic proportions,” said Stenson.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 45,780 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and oropharynx in 2015. If this trend continues, the number of cases of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer will surpass the number of cervical cancer cases.

Early detection is key
The current vaccine has been shown to decrease the incidence of HPV-associated cervical infections and cancer. While the same result is anticipated for HPV-associated head and neck cancer, the impact of vaccines on incidence of persistent oral HPV infection and/or HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer has not yet been investigated. We will need about 10-30 more years to see the anticipated effect of the vaccine on HPV-related cancers that could affect people who are now teenagers. Still, head and neck surgeons, medical oncologists and other researchers strongly advocate vaccination of both girls and boys to help prevent all HPV-associated cancers.

“For all individuals, the key is in early detection, as with any cancer,” Stenson said.

In addition to being vaccinated, Stenson stresses the importance of regular visits to the dentist. “Dentists play a key role in detecting oral cancer. You might not see a primary care physician even once a year, but most people see their dentist twice a year. Having regular dental visits can help catch cancers early to help ensure the best outcome.”

The American Dental Association states that 60 percent of the U.S. population sees a dentist every year.

Oral cancer warning signs
The Oral Cancer Foundation presumes that cancer screenings of the existing patient population would yield tens of thousands of opportunities to catch oral cancer in its early stages.

“There is much that can be done for those who are diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Since early detection and treatment is critical, it’s important to see your dentist regularly and to promptly see a medical professional if there are any warnings signs,” Stenson advised. Strategies to improve public awareness and knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors are critical topics for study and may decrease the disease burden of head and neck cancers.

Possible warning signs of oral cancer may include difficulty swallowing, pain when chewing, a white patch anywhere on the inside of your mouth, a lump or sore in the mouth or on the lip that does not heal.

If you notice any of these symptoms, ask your dentist or doctor about it.

Treatment includes surgery for early or low-volume late stage lesions and radiation or chemoradiation for more advanced cancers.

March, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Cannabinoids may offer hope for patients with oral cancer pain

Source: www.elements4health.com

Even the strongest available pain medications are largely ineffective for many cancer patients, particularly those with oral cancers. One of the nation’s leading oral cancer treating clinicians, speaking at the American Pain Society’s annual meeting, said he believes that while prospects for major treatment advances remain bleak, a new cannabinoid-based medication may have some promise for providing meaningful pain relief.

Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, professor, New York University College of Dentistry and School of Medicine, delivered the Global Year Against Pain Lecture and reported that today, more than 100 years since President Ulysses S. Grant died from oral cancer, there is only modest improvement in patient survival. Grant is the only American president to die from cancer.

“Oral cancer is one of the most painful and debilitating of all malignancies,” said Schmidt, “ and opioids, the strongest pain medications we have, are an imperfect solution. They become dramatically less effective as tolerance to these drugs develops.”

Now considered to be the fastest increasing cancer in the United States, oral and oropharyngeal malignancies usually begin in the tongue. Human papillomavirus transmitted through oral sex, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are the leading causes of this increase in oropharyngeal cancer. In the United States, some 43,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year and the disease is more widespread worldwide with 640,000 new cases a year.

Schmidt said oral cancer patients often undergo multiple surgeries as tumors recur and also are treated with radiation and chemotherapy. The disease is difficult to diagnose at early stages and spreads quickly, leaving patients in gruesome pain and unable to speak or swallow. “Our inability to effectively treat oral cancer stems from lack of knowledge. We know that cancer pain is caused by a unique biological mechanism, but more research is needed to develop medications that are effective in treating oral cancer pain,” Schmidt said.

“The only way we can hope to reduce the devastating impact of oral cancer pain is to fund more research to help those who suffer or will suffer from this ruthless disease,” Schmidt told the APS audience. He added that half of oral cancer patients do not survive five years after diagnosis.

Schmidt noted that perhaps some good news is on the horizon, as clinical trials proceed for a drug produced directly from a marijuana plants (Sativex). It is administered as an oral spray and shows promise for treating cancer pain. The drug is available in Canada and Europe for treating spasticity from multiple sclerosis and is in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States for treatment of cancer pain. Schmidt is a clinical investigator for Sativex trials.

“While it’s too early to conclude the cannabinoid medication will provide effective cancer pain relief, we do know that humans possess numerous cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body which regulate a significant amount of human physiology. So, there is hope that cannabinoid-based medications can become effective pain relievers for cancer patients.”

Katie Couric show on HPV vaccine sparks backlash

Source: CBS News
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2013
By: Ryan Jaslow

 

Katie Couric’s talk show “Katie” has drawn ire from doctors and journalists for a recent segment on the HPV vaccine that presented what it called “both sides” of the “HPV controversy.”

The segment included personal stories from two moms who claim their daughters suffered serious harm from the vaccine (one of them died). In addition, the show featured two physicians: one who researched the vaccine and thinks its long-term protection benefits are oversold, and one who recommends it to her patients, in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Ahead of the show, which aired Dec. 4, Couric tweeted:

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 12.01.48 PM

Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, did not feel it was appropriate to juxtapose the anecdotal stories with the medical evidence. He had hoped more weight would be given to the scientific evidence of the vaccine’s safety profile and effectiveness at preventing cervical cancer.

“The show was kind of inexcusable in terms of damage done versus positive contribution,” he told CBS News.

Any time you’re vaccinating hundreds of thousands of people, Caplan said, you can expect that some people in that population will have health incidents occur. But their ailments may not necessarily be connected to the vaccine. What needs to be weighed is the cause and effect, versus what may be just coincidence. Mentioning such incidents in that context would have been one thing, but giving them more air-time than the bevy of evidence about safety and efficacy is another.

“The problem in TV and all media, (is) the human interest drives the story,” said Caplan. “In science and public health, it doesn’t, or it’s at risk of grave harm.”

“If you want to do a show every day that spotlights anecdotal claims about the health effects of cell phones or curative powers of megavitamins or dangers of airplane contrail vapors, you can certainly fill up lots of programming,” said added. “But I don’t think you’re doing anyone a service.”

While the show has certainly sparked debate, what’s not debatable is that HPV is a significant factor in cancer cases in the United States.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an infection that is so common that it will occur in virtually all sexually-active people at one point or another. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, according to federal estimates.

There are more than 150 related viruses that make up HPV, but about 40 can be transmitted sexually, and some play a bigger role in causing genital warts while others increase risk for cancers of the cervix, anus, oropharynx (throat and back of the tongue), vulva, vagina and penis.

About 90 percent of genital warts are caused by the HPV 6 and 11 strains, while the majority of cancers related to the infection — about 70 percent — are caused by strains 16 and 18.

But most people won’t have a problem. The CDC points out 90 percent of all HPV infections, including the cancer-causing strains, will be cleared or undetectable in two years without any treatment, with many leaving the body within six months due natural immunity.

It’s the ones that don’t clear that are worrisome. Virtually all cervical cancer cases each year – there are 12,340 new ones expected in 2013 — are caused by high-risk strains of HPV, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Rates of oropharyngeal cancer have soared in recent years, studies have found, and HPV from oral sex is thought to be to blame, as Michael Douglas spotlighted in June by disclosing his throat cancer was caused by the infection.

That’s where vaccines aim to help, by preventing HPV in the first place. The two approved vaccines are Cervarix, which prevents HPV types 16 and 18, and Gardasil, which prevents HPV 16 and 18 as well as the genital-wart causing HPV 6 and 11 strains.

Both vaccines are given in three doses over a six-month period, recommended for females aged 13 through 26, and males between 13 and 21 years old.

“The vaccines that are available right now are one of our only protections against HPV,” Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News in June.

A CDC study in June reported rates of HPV strains related to genital warts and some cancers have dropped 56 percent among American teen girls since a vaccine was introduced in 2006, from 11.5 percent of 19-year-olds infected before the vaccine was introduced, to 5 percent by 2010.

Dr. Diane Harper, chair of family medicine at the University of Louisville who researched the vaccine, told Couric that the vaccine’s protection wears off after five years, so men and women could still be at risk for HPV down the road.

The CDC, however, says studies with up to six years of follow-up data have found no evidence of waning effectiveness from the vaccine, a point Caplan also emphasized. One study found even one dose was 82 percent effective, though all three doses are recommended.

The CDC adds that if 80 percent of teens got all three doses of the vaccine, an estimated 53,000 additional cases of cervical cancer could be prevented over the lifetimes of girls aged 12 and older. For every year that increases in coverage are delayed, another 4,400 women will go on to develop the disease.

That’s not to that say the HPV vaccine, or any vaccine, can’t cause side effects.

The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received at least 22,000 reports of adverse events in girls and women who got the vaccine between June 2006 through March 2013. Over this time, about 57 million doses of the vaccine were distributed in the United States.

Ninety-two percent of the reported side effects were considered nonserious. They included injection-site pain and swelling, fainting, dizziness, nausea, headache, fever and hives.

The other almost 8 percent of serious side effects included headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and generalized weakness.

“Editors, producers want a face,” said Caplan. “Public health wants data, statistics, and boring compilations.”

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

 

http://worldofdtcmarketing.com/irresponsible-journalism-that-can-cause-loss-of-life/in-the-news/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/05/03/here-is-how-we-know-gardasil-has-not-killed-100-people/

 

 

December, 2013|Oral Cancer News|