11/20/2002 Robert Bazell New England Journal of Medicine Experimental injection found 100 percent effective against virus that causes disease. Early testing shows an experimental vaccine to be 100 percent effective against the virus that causes cervical cancer, raising doctors’ hopes of someday sending the lethal disease into retreat in the same way as smallpox and polio. “IT APPEARS to be the real thing,” said Dr. Christopher Crum, a pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “You’re looking at some very compelling evidence that this vaccine will prevent cervical cancer.” It remains unclear how long the protection might last. Even so, researchers say a vaccine could reach the market within five years or so. The findings were published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. TARGETING HPV Vaccines work by teaching the body's immune defenses to recognize invading viruses and bacteria. Most types of cancer, by contrast, are blamed largely on genetic mutations and environmental factors. However, virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by a sexually transmitted virus - the human papilloma virus. A vaccine for cervical cancer is urgently being sought because the disease strikes about 450,000 women worldwide each year, killing about half. It is the leading cancer killer of women in the developing world. In the United States, where Pap tests are widely used for screening, it develops in about 13,000 women annually and kills about a third. The new vaccine, aimed at the viral strain Type 16 responsible for about half the cases [...]
9/18/2002 West Virginia Bev Davis Register-Herald When Gruen Von Behrens speaks, kids listen. It's more than his words, however, that captures their full attention. His face deformed and scarred from 27 different surgeries to correct damage caused by oral cancer, the 25-year-old Illinois native offers teens a passionate message - look at the results of spit tobacco use and beat the addiction while there's still time. "I started dipping when I was 13. I thought it was a cool thing to do. I can tell you this. Looking the way I do now is not cool," he told more than 100 Shady Spring High School sophomores gathered Tuesday for a special assembly in the school's cafeteria. Von Behrens suspected he had mouth cancer several months before he had the courage to see a doctor. "My tongue was completely split and it was all white and yucky looking. I knew it was cancer, but I didn't want to face it. Cancer has made my life a living hell. Every time I turn around, they are putting me in the hospital, either to have surgery or some kind of treatment. Do you think it's cool to have your girlfriend kiss you and you can't even feel it? Trust me, it isn't. It's terrible," he said. Students sat in rapt silence as the cancer victim told his story. When he asked how many of them knew someone who uses spit tobacco, scores of hands went up. RESA I tobacco prevention specialist Lori McGraw [...]
9/15/2002 Aviano, Italy Dr. Silvia Franceschi International Journal of Cancer, 85:787-790 The higher the consumption of alcohol the greater the risk of cancer of the mouth or pharynx, Italian researchers report in a recent issue of the International Journal of Cancer. Also, while duration of drinking has no bearing on the risk, they found that the risk persists after quitting alcohol. Dr. Silvia Franceschi, of the Centro di Riferimento Oncologico in Aviano, Italy, and colleagues interviewed 754 men and women in either Switzerland or Italy with incident cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx. The subjects answered questions regarding lifetime smoking and drinking habits. The investigators also interviewed 1,775 control subjects who were in the hospital for acute, non-neoplastic diseases. Drinkers of 20 alcoholic drinks per week or less showed similar odds ratios for oral cavity or pharynx cancer as never drinkers. But above that level, the risk of oral cavity or pharynx cancer increased with the number of alcoholic drinks per week. The odds ratio for individuals who consumed 91 drinks per week or more was 11.6 compared with never drinkers. Dr. Franceschi's group reports that the risk in former drinkers was 1.9 times that of current drinkers. However, former drinkers who had also quit smoking had a lower risk than current drinkers. "The direct association between alcohol intake and risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx is strongly dose-dependent but apparently unaffected by duration of alcohol consumption," Dr. Franceschi and co-authors say. The authors note that [...]
9/10/2002 Yorkshire, UK BBC News The government is being urged to review cancer care services after a man suffering from oral cancer was misdiagnosed by different doctors on 19 separate occasions. Father-of-three Steve Harley, 41, now faces a far tougher fight against the disease because the tumour has spread. Whereas doctors might have been able to remove the cancer if he had been diagnosed earlier, it is currently inoperable, and specialists are using chemotherapy to try to shrink it before trying surgery. Mr Harley is now facing an intensive seven-week course of radiotherapy. If that fails, he faces losing his tongue, larynx and voice box - and his overall chances of survival are far lower. Mr Harley's MP, Eric Illsley, warned the government in the House of Commons on Wednesday that Mr Harley's case highlighted serious failings in health provision in England. The businessman, from Barnsley, south Yorkshire, first developed throat pains in July last year. He says he visited his GP, who told him it was probably an infection and sent him home with antibiotics. However, it failed to clear up, and he visited the GP on seven further occasions, each time being told that nothing could be found. He says he was not sent for further investigations despite reporting symptoms that were clear signs that something could be wrong - a persistent and agonising earache in addition to the earlier sore throat. He eventually saw four different GPs, five hospital doctors and three specialists. "I did ask fairly [...]
10/1/2002 Chicago American Dental Association The American Dental Association (ADA) announced yesterday it received a grant of $1.2 million from the National Cancer Institute to develop and implement a continuing education program for oral health care professionals in the fight against oral cancer. "Despite advances in oral cancer treatment, only about half of all persons diagnosed with it survive more than five years," says ADA President Dr. D. Gregory Chadwick. "We want to see those survival numbers go up, and that is why we are so extremely pleased with this award because it will help bring prevention and early detection to the forefront in our battle against oral cancer." The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates some 28,900 oral cancer cases will occur this year, resulting in 7,400 deaths. Incidence rates are more than twice as high in men as in women and are greatest in men over age 40. Risk factors include cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking, use of smokeless tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol. However, 25 percent of oral cancer victims do not smoke or have any other known risk factors. The five-year grant will focus on oral cancer prevention, with long-range goals of increasing the number of dentists who counsel at-risk patients about stopping tobacco use, according to principal investigator Dr. Sol Silverman, professor of oral medicine, University of California at San Francisco. Through this program, he added, we also will lay the foundation to increase detection of oral cancer at its earliest, most curable stage. "Initially, [...]
9/1/2002 Bethesda, MD The National Cancer Institute The National Cancer Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, has chosen the Oral Cancer Foundation as a resource to be added to the NCI Fact Sheet, a guide which it provides to the American public, and in particular to those people with cancer and their family members, that lists organizations which provide information and services to those with cancer. “Knowledge is empowering when fighting a killer such as cancer. The NCI has always been the primary source for the dissemination of information regarding all cancers to both professionals and the public, providing timely, unbiased, and accurate information. OCF is proud to have met the criteria established by the NCI for inclusion in its list of resources for patients and families”, said Brian Hill, OCF’s founder and Executive Director. The Oral Cancer Foundation is a non-profit entity created for the purpose of raising the awareness of oral cancer in both the professional and public sectors. Providing information, resources, and support to patients and family members, as well as caregivers, are core goals of the foundation.
8/15/2002 Atlanta Cancer Journal for Clinicians An estimated 28,900 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer and nearly 7,400 will succumb to the disease, according to a review published in the July/August issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Cancer Society. This disease most commonly has been found in middle-aged and older individuals, and it has affected more men than women. However, authors Brad W. Neville, DDS, and Terry A. Day, MD, FACS, say that “a disturbing number of these malignancies is being documented in younger adults…[and the] disparity in the male:female ratio has become less pronounced over the past half century, probably because women have been more equally exposing themselves to known oral carcinogens such as tobacco and alcohol.” Along with a review of the epidemiological and clinical features of oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, Neville and Day emphasize early detection as the best method of prevention. “In spite of the ready accessibility of the oral cavity to direct examination, these malignancies still are often not detected until a late stage, and the survival rate for oral cancer has remained essentially unchanged over the past three decades,” say the authors.
8/14/2002 Berlin Hannah Cleaver Reuters Health A "pacemaker for the tongue" could soon help victims of mouth cancer or accidents to control a reconstructed tongue built from transplanted muscle, animal studies in Germany suggest. Currently, surgeons can fashion replacement tongues from neck muscles for people who lose their tongue to cancer or trauma. The muscles are grafted onto the base of the person's original tongue. But controlling the rebuilt organ, in order to eat and talk, is a major problem and reconstructed tongues need to be kept active to avoid shrinkage through disuse. "The reconstructed tongue initially makes passive movements, which are produced by contractions of the surrounding floor of the mouth as well as pharynx and chewing musculature," said Professor Stephan Remmert, from Luebeck University Hospital, at last week's German Ear, Nose and Throat Conference in Baden-Baden. To give patients better control of the tongue, Remmert is using pacemaker technology to boost nerve signals to the reconstructed organ. He told Reuters Health that the main aim of the work was to filter the most important signals that the brain sends to the main tongue nerve, the hypoglossus. "Then we can amplify the signal and send it on to the new musculature," Remmert said. "It has to be amplified enough to generate quite powerful movements." In experiments on domestic pigs, the group is surrounding the severed end of the hypoglossus with electrodes to measure, reproduce and send its signals. Much of the other technology needed has already been developed, or [...]
8/13/2002 Bombay, India Amy Waldman Tata Memorial Hospital Promoted by a slick and many-tentacled advertising campaign, gutka, an indigenous form of smokeless tobacco, has become a fixture in the mouths of millions of Indians over the last two decades. It has spread through the subcontinent, and even to South Asians in England. But what has prompted particular concern here is the way that in the last 10 years, gutka - as portable as chewing gum and sometimes as sweet as candy - has found its way into the mouths of Indian children. Young people have become gutka consumers in large numbers, and they have become an alarming avant-garde in what doctors say is an oral cancer epidemic. That, among other factors, has prompted the state of Maharashtra, which includes Bombay, to take an unusual step. It enacted a five-year ban, the longest permitted by law, on the production, sale, transport and possession of gutka, a $30 million business in the state, effective Aug. 1. Several other states have undertaken similar bans, although some have been stayed by the courts. It is easy, on the streets of Bombay, to find young men like Raga Vendra, now 19, a railway worker who began taking gutka at age 11. It is also easy to find gutka sellers, like Ahmed Maqsood, who say they have had customers as young as 6. Dr. Surendra Shastri, the head of preventive oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital, noticed about five years ago that his patients were getting younger, [...]
8/9/2002 New York AP "Basic Instinct" screenwriter Joe Eszterhas has throat cancer after a lifetime of smoking, and is urging Hollywood to stop glamorizing cigarette use the way he says he did. Eszterhas writes in an op-ed piece in Friday's New York Times that he was diagnosed with the disease 18 months ago. Much of his larynx is gone, he says, and he has difficulty speaking and being understood. "Smoking was an integral part of many of my screenplays because I was a militant smoker. It was part of a bad boy image I'd cultivated for a long time — smoking, drinking, partying, rock 'n' roll," the 57-year-old writes. "Smoking, I once believed, was every person's right. ... I don't think smoking is every person's right anymore. I think smoking should be as illegal as heroin." Eszterhas says he has trouble forgiving himself for the rampant cigarette use in his films. "I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings. I am admitting this only because I have made a deal with God. Spare me, I said, and I will try to stop others from committing the same crimes I did." The writer of other guilty-pleasure movies, including "Flashdance," "Sliver" and "Showgirls," says there are "1,000 better and more original ways to reveal a character's personality" than with cigarettes. In 1992's "Basic Instinct," Eszterhas explains, smoking is part of the sexual subtext. " Sharon Stone's character smokes; Michael Douglas' is trying to quit. She seduces him [...]