Monthly Archives: August 2009

Los Angeles jury recommends Philip Morris USA pay $13.8 million in punitive damages

Author: staff

A jury on Monday, August 24th, recommended that cigarette maker Philip Morris USA should pay $13.8 million in punitive damages to the daughter of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer, according to a report by the Associated Press. The panel voted 9 to 3 in favor of Bullock’s daughter Jodie Bullock, who is now the plaintiff in the case. Betty Bullock died of lung cancer in February 2003.

She had sued Philip Morris in April 2001, accusing the company of fraud and product liability. A jury in 2002 recommended Philip Morris pay a record $28 billion in punitive damages to Bullock, but a judge later reduced the award to $28 million.

In 2008, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the jury’s decision and remanded the case for a new trial over the punitive damages. Philip Morris said the $28 million remained excessive; however, the original jury recommended the tobacco company pay Bullock $750,000 in damages and $100,000 for pain and suffering, a verdict that still stands.

In a statement, Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris, said any amount given to Bullock’s daughter is unwarranted. “After hearing weeks of improper arguments and evidence that violated state and federal law on punitive damages, the jury still managed to reject plaintiff’s patently unreasonable request,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris. “Even so, we believe that any punitive damages award is unwarranted based on the facts in this case and that this award is unconstitutionally excessive.”

Defense attorney Frank P. Kelly said outside of court that Philip Morris has not decided yet whether to appeal the decision.

Betty Bullock, 64, of Newport Beach, Calif., started smoking Marlboros when she was 17 and later turned to Benson & Hedges, both Philip Morris products. Attorneys for Philip Morris argued Betty Bullock could have stopped smoking at anytime, and the harmful effects of cigarettes were known to smokers.

Jurors said the figure they reached was a compromise, with some arguing that Philip Morris should not pay anything, while others believed the cigarette maker should pay billions of dollars in damages.

Matt Reed, 37, of Burbank was one of the three dissenting jurors, who believed Philip Morris should pay a higher amount than the verdict. “Some of us looked at it as an opportunity to deter this behavior,” Reed said. “I don’t find $13.8 million to be much of a deterrent.” Other jurors felt Betty Bullock should have been more responsible, but using a formula decided on an amount for the years she suffered from lung cancer. “I saw it as a personal choice,” said Poulet Minasian, 25, of Los Angeles. “There was a big gap in the amount [during deliberations], but the $13.8 million made sense.”

Jury Awards $13.8 Million in Damages to Smoker’s Daughter PM USA says award is “unwarranted,” “unconstitutionally excessive”Convenience Store/Petroleum (CSP) Daily News, 8/27/2009.

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Advantages of TomoTherapy platform for radiation therapy highlighted at 10th biennial ESTRO conference

Author: press release

TomoTherapy Incorporated announced today that there will be more than 40 presentations at the 10th Biennial ESTRO Conference on Physics and Radiation Technology for Clinical Radiotherapy that explore use of the TomoTherapy® treatment system. The TomoTherapy system — a versatile, CT scanner-based device that integrates image guidance for increased treatment accuracy and helical radiation therapy delivery for enhanced tumor targeting — is helping cancer centers advance patient care around the world. The papers cover a breadth of advantages related to the TomoTherapy system, including the importance of daily imaging for precise patient positioning and adaptive therapy purposes, fundamental advancements in treatment planning and improvements in treatment quality for the patient.

The ESTRO Conference will take place August 30 to September 3, 2009, in Maastricht, The Netherlands. At booth 140, TomoTherapy will highlight how its radiotherapy platform is reshaping radiation therapy, with exhibits and presentations on topics such as the evolution and future of the TomoTherapy platform, user case studies, use of TomoDirect™ technology to increase system versatility and throughput, and the new TQA(TM) quality assurance tool. The conference will feature more than 40 TomoTherapy-related papers, on a range of topics, including:

Clinically Applied Imaging
Adaptive Radiotherapy to Treatment Response – UCL-Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels, Belgium. This study explores how recent advancements in imaging, computational and technological fields may enable clinicians to achieve high precision radiation dose delivery. Initial results show that use of the TomoTherapy system’s adaptive planning capabilities allows for a significant reduction in the volume of tissue irradiated to high dose and may assist in responding to dosimetric variations caused by anatomical changes during treatment, providing the opportunity to employ dose escalation strategies.

Evaluation of Megavolt CT (MVCT) Imaging Protocols in the Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer with Helical TomoTherapy – ZNA Middelheim-UZA, Antwerp, Belgium. This study was designed to evaluate several imaging protocols based on the results of an extended evaluation of TomoTherapy MVCT images, acquired on a daily basis, for head and neck cancer patients. Researchers concluded that the TomoTherapy system enables quick and easy daily imaging and reduces margins that account for set-up uncertainties, which therefore reduces the amount of healthy tissue that is irradiated during treatment.

Validation of an Elastic Registration Method to Parotid Shrinkage as Assessed by MVCT Scans during TomoTherapy – Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; IBFM-CNR and Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; and IBNM-CNR and Politecnico, Milan, Italy. This paper evaluated the use of MVCT images during TomoTherapy(SM) treatments to address changes in the parotid gland as a way to reduce common side effects of radiotherapy during treatment of head and neck cancer. The study concludes that daily MVCT scans enabled clinicians to evaluate the three-dimensional behavior of tissues during the course of radiotherapy, with a detailed analysis of position, volume and shape, and calculate an accurate dose received by the parotids during the course of treatment.

Technology Comparisons
Comparison of IMRT Delivery Techniques and Helical TomoTherapy Using Pareto Front Evaluation – Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden; and Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Herlev, Denmark. This study was designed to compare different IMRT treatment planning and delivery systems using Pareto front evaluation. For the case examined in this study, the TomoTherapy treatment planning system was deemed to be superior to Nucletron’s Oncentra Masterplan (OMP) and Varian’s Eclipse systems regarding target coverage and sparing of the parotid gland.

Improved Treatment Quality
A Collaborative Dosimetric Comparison for Helical TomoTherapy and Single-Arc Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy (IMAT) Between Two Institutions – University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisc.; University of Wisconsin Cancer Center, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.; and University of Maryland, Baltimore, Md. This study was designed as a dosimetric comparison of helical TomoTherapy treatments and Single-Arc IMAT treatments. Results indicated that helical TomoTherapy provided better dose uniformity by a factor of two, and slightly better dose sparing to 80 percent of the normal tissues studied, such as the lens, eyes, spinal cord, parotid, rectum and bladder.

Quality Assurance
TomoTherapy Quality Assurance (TQA(TM)): A Fast and Comprehensive Software Tool – UCL-Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels, Belgium. This paper compares the TQA software tool with classical quality assurance methodology. The researchers concluded that the TQA tool is not only a fast and comprehensive quality assurance tool, it also provides accurate and reliable information.

A New Method for Output Factors Measurements/MC Computations for Stereotactic and Dynamic Jaws TomoTherapy – UCL-Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels, Belgium; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisc.; and TomoTherapy Inc. This paper — which earned the ESTRO Varian award for research in the field of radiobiology, radiation physics, clinical radiotherapy or radiation technology — discusses a method of calculating output factors for small field sizes with the TomoTherapy system, which was successfully verified by Monte Carlo simulations.

Also, this year ESTRO has recognized the 1993 paper “TomoTherapy: A New Concept for Delivery of Dynamic Conformal Radiotherapy” as “A Classic Medical Physics Paper.” Lead author is Thomas “Rock” Mackie, PhD, TomoTherapy’s co-founder and chairman.

“It is rewarding to see how TomoTherapy users across the globe are advancing cancer care by using our unique platform,” said Mackie. “From the wealth of data offered in the papers at ESTRO, it is clear that the TomoTherapy system offers users the flexibility to cancers throughout the body — from the simple to the most complex — with precise treatment plans that result in more effective delivery of radiation and the potential of fewer side effects for patients.”

About TomoTherapy Incorporated
TomoTherapy Incorporated has developed, markets and sells the TomoTherapy® Hi·Art® treatment system, an advanced radiation therapy system for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers. The Hi·Art treatment system combines integrated CT imaging with conformal radiation therapy to deliver sophisticated radiation treatments with speed and precision while reducing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Widespread, growing use of snus

Source: WebMD

Author: Marlene Busko

Lyon, France – Smokeless tobacco—such as snuff and chewing tobacco—is not harmless when it comes to heart health, according to a new meta-analysis [1]. A review of 11 studies from Sweden and the US, almost entirely in men, showed that smokeless-tobacco users had an increased risk of death from MI or stroke.

The study, by researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC), is published online August 18, 2009 in BMJ.

Contrary to common belief that smokeless tobacco has very little effect on health, these products have been shown to increase cancer risk, coauthor and IARC researcher Dr Kurt Straif (Lyon, France) told heartwire.

“There is sufficient evidence for a causal association between smokeless tobacco and oral and pancreatic cancer [2] and probably also esophageal cancer [3],” he said.

“Now, this study adds evidence that smokeless tobacco causes death from cardiovascular diseases,” Straif summarized.
Widespread, growing use of snus

Types of smokeless tobacco used in North America and Europe include dry snuff that is inhaled, as well as moist snuff (called snus in Sweden) and chewing tobacco (or spit tobacco), which are sucked inside the cheek.

These products have been around for centuries, and after a decline in consumption for most of the 20th century, use has rebounded in the past few decades, the authors write.

In 2000, 23.9% of men and 4.1% of women in Sweden reported using snus daily or occasionally. In the same year, in the US, 4.4% of men and 0.3% of women were current users of snuff or chewing tobacco.

To determine whether users of smokeless tobacco are at increased risk of death from MI or stroke, the researchers systematically reviewed worldwide studies published until 2009.

They then excluded studies from Asia, because the smokeless tobacco used there is a different type—generally betel quid, which contains other ingredients such as areca nut, Straif said.

The meta-analysis included eight studies from Sweden—where the use of snus is widespread—and three studies from the US. Ten studies were in men only, and apart from two studies, all were in people who had never smoked tobacco

Smokeless-tobacco use was linked with a greater risk of cardiac fatalities.

In eight studies, compared with nonusers, smokeless-tobacco users had a relative risk of fatal MI of 1.13 (95% CI 1.06-1.21).

Similarly, in five studies, compared with nonusers, smokeless-tobacco users had a relative risk of fatal stroke of 1.40 (95% CI 1.28-1.54)

Results were comparable in studies from Sweden and the US.

The researchers estimate that in 2000, 0.5% of deaths from MI and 1.7% of deaths from stroke in American men were due to smokeless-tobacco use.

Similarly, they estimate that in 2001, 5.6% of deaths from MI and 5.4% of deaths from stroke in Swedish men were due to smokeless-tobacco use.

The authors acknowledge that the review’s limitations include potential other confounders that were not accounted for.

However, “if the association [between smokeless tobacco and fatal cardiovascular outcomes] is real, its public-health and clinical implications might be substantial, despite the fact that the magnitude of the excess risk is small,” they write.

“Given the recent increase in use of smokeless tobacco, it is important to stress that all forms of tobacco are harmful and that the best prevention is not to start using any kind of tobacco, or—for users—to stop using all kinds of tobacco,” Straif said.
Baseball players and spitballs

In a comment to heartwireAHA spokesperson Dr Nieca Goldberg (New York University School of Medicine, NY) said that most people know that smoking cigarettes is harmful, but they may not realize that smokeless tobacco also presents a health risk—for oral cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Young people who watch baseball on television may be influenced by seeing baseball players who chew tobacco, she added.

“Cardiologists [and other physicians] need to remember to ask patients not only about cigarettes but also about smokeless tobacco,” she said

“The results are consistent with the INTERHEART study [4],” Dr Koon K Teo(McMaster University, Hamilton, ON), the lead author on that trial, toldheartwire. “We found that smokeless tobacco has been as harmful for heart attacks as smoking cigarettes.”

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Saliva test for microRNA could detect oral cancer

Author: Chris Emery, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

Researchers say they have identified dozens of microRNAs in saliva, raising hopes that saliva tests could assist in early detection of oral cancers.

Analyzing patient saliva with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, the researchers identified about 50 microRNAs — molecules that halt mRNA translation and/or lead to mRNA degradation, according to a report in the Sept. 1 edition of Clinical Cancer Research.

Of the miRNAs they found, a few were present at significantly lower levels in the saliva of patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) than in control subjects (P<0.05).

“Two of these miRNAs, miR-125a and miR-200a, are differentially expressed in the saliva of the OSCC patients compared with that of healthy controls,” David T. Wong, DMD, DMSc, of the Los Angeles School of Dentistry, and colleagues wrote.

“These findings suggest that the detection of miRNAs in saliva can be used as a noninvasive and rapid diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of oral cancer.”

The authors noted that OSCC is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., accounting for 90% of oral cancers and leading to 8,000 deaths per year.

“The average five-year survival rate for OSCC is [about] 50%,” they wrote. “Shockingly, this number has not changed in last three decades. Therefore, an early detection method for OSCC is needed to increase long-term patient survival.”

Other recent studies have discovered hundreds of miRNAs in various organisms that play roles in cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, stress response, immune response, and glucose secretion.

“Many research groups have shown that miRNAs are differentially expressed in various cancer cells compared with normal cells, and it seems that miRNAs more accurately cluster different types of solid tumors than mRNA, suggesting that miRNAs can be used to detect cancer,” the authors wrote.

Wong and his colleagues used reverse transcriptase-preamplification-quantitative PCR to test for the presence of 314 miRNAs in the saliva of 12 healthy subjects.

They found that 47 miRNAs were present in whole saliva and 52 were present in supernatant saliva. This suggested that a common set of miRNAs are detectable in human saliva.

The researchers then used RT-preamp-qPCR to test the levels of four miRNAs (miR-200a, miR-125a, miR-142-3p, miR-93) in a total 50 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma and 50 healthy control patients (including the 12 original participants).

These miRNAs were early identified as being present at statistically significant levels between the smaller groups of 12 patients, and two of them, miR-125a and miR-200a, remained significantly different between the two groups of 50 participants.

“Together, these data suggest that miRNAs miR-200a and miR-125a are present at significantly lower levels in the saliva of OSCC patients,” the authors wrote.

The investigators also noted a paradox: miR-200a is overexpressed in oral squamous cell lines but reduced in saliva from patients with oral squamous cell cancer. They theorized that this could be due to miRNA being in a cell-free state in saliva but not in cell lines.

They concluded that the association between lower levels of the two miRNAs and oral cancer may provide a means of early cancer detection, and that the presence of miRNA adds a third type of molecule, in addition to proteome and transcriptome, that can be measured in human saliva.

1. The study was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
2. The authors reported no financial conflicts of interest.

Source reference:
Wong D, et al “Salivary microRNA: Discovery, characterization, and clinical utility for oral cancer detection” Clin Cancer Res 2009; 17: 5473-77.

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Dietary vitamin D and cancers of the oral cavity and esophagus

Source: Annals of Oncology 2009 20(9):1576-1581
Authors: L. Lipworth et al.

Data on the association between vitamin D and upper digestive tract neoplasms are limited.

In two case–control studies in Italy, we examined the relation between dietary vitamin D intake and squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus (SCCE; 304 cases) and oral/pharyngeal cancer (804 cases). Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by multiple logistic regression.

Results: Adjusted ORs for SCCE and oral/pharyngeal cancer were 0.58 (95% CI 0.39–0.86) and 0.76 (95% CI 0.60–0.94), respectively, for the highest tertile of vitamin D intake. Using a reference group of those in the highest tertile of vitamin D who were never/former smokers, ORs were 8.7 (95% CI 4.1–18.7) for SCCE and 10.4 (95% CI 6.9–15.5) for oral/pharyngeal cancer among heavy smokers in the lowest vitamin D tertile; similarly, compared with those in the highest tertile of vitamin D who drank <3 alcoholic drinks/day, corresponding ORs were 41.9 (95% CI 13.7–128.6) for SCCE and 8.5 (95% CI 5.7–12.5) for oral/pharyngeal cancer, among heavy alcohol drinkers in the lowest vitamin D tertile.

We observed inverse associations between dietary vitamin D intake and risk of SCCE and, perhaps, oral/pharyngeal cancer, which were most pronounced among heavy current smokers and heavy consumers of alcohol.

L. Lipworth1,2, M. Rossi3, J. K. McLaughlin1,4, E. Negri3, R. Talamini5, F. Levi6, S. Franceschi7 and C. La Vecchia3,4,8

Authors’ affiliations:
1 International Epidemiology Institute, Rockville, MD
2 Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN, USA
3 Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Pharmacologic Research “Mario Negri”, Milan
4 Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, TN, USA
5 Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Oncology Referral Center, Aviano (PN), Italy
6 Cancer Epidemiology Unit and Cancer Registries of Vaud and Neuchatel, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
7 Epidemiology and Biology Cluster, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
8 Institute of Medical Statistics and Biometrics “G. A. Maccacaro”, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Light-mediated therapy aims to overcome both tumour cell uptake barriers and toxicity problems

Author: press release

PCI Biotech Holding ASA, the Norwegian drug delivery company focusing on effective delivery of cancer therapeutics, today announced that the first patient has received treatment in the Phase I/II trial with the lead candidate Amphinex(R), which uses a new approach called photochemical internalisation. The patient was treated at the University College Hospital (UCH) in London. PCI’s proprietary photosensitiser Amphinex(R) is in this study combined with the therapeutic agent bleomycin. When activated by light, Amphinex(R) promotes effective delivery of large therapeutic molecules such as bleomycin through triggered endosomal release. The trial will investigate a broadly representative spectrum of cancers including head and neck cancer and breast cancer, to demonstrate the safety and potential of this new approach.

The primary objective of this study is to assess the maximum tolerated dose of Amphinex(R), in PCI treatment with bleomycin. Secondary objectives include determination of the antitumor activity of Amphinex(R) when used in combination with bleomycin, as well as its pharmacokinetics.

Colin Hopper, Principal Investigator at UCH, said: “At UCH we are dedicated to high quality patient care and we have extensive experience in the use of photodynamic therapy to treat cancer patients. PCI is a very exciting new approach in photodynamic medicine that has shown great promise in preclinical studies. We are very proud of being the first centre to move this new technology into the clinic.”

Per Walday CEO of PCI Biotech, said: “This first in man trial is an important step forward for the company. We are confident that our approach addresses one major challenge in oncology – how to deliver therapeutics with large enough loads to effectively destroy tumours while at the same time reducing the risk of damaging healthy cells. Bleomycin is ideal for demonstrating this – there is no doubt about its therapeutic potential, but until now delivery problems and associated toxicity have prevented the realisation of its full potential. We expect to have the first preliminary results of the trial early in 2010.”

In addition, whilst our main initial focus is cancer, we strongly believe the PCI technology also has potential to improve the effect of emerging treatments such as gene therapy and therapies based on nanotechnology or on biotechnological principles. In particular, we are looking at siRNA through projects funded by EU and by the Norwegian Research Council.”

PCI Biotech

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

First ever list of top-rated cancer fighting nonprofits

Author: Staff

Menlo Park, Calif. — For donors and volunteers looking to support a cancer charity, GreatNonprofits releases the first ever list of top-rated cancer fighting nonprofits.

A huge variety of cancer support, education, and advocacy organizations were reviewed during the 2009 GreatNonprofits Cancer Fighters Awards in July.

The large diversity of organizations that received reviews combined with the large number of reviews posted, shows the incredible passion and commitment these organizations inspire.

“We’re really proud of this,” says Brian Hill, Founder and Executive Director of The Oral Cancer Foundation, which won for top-rated cancer organization with an annual budget below $250,000.  “It’s an honest appraisal of metrics of what we’ve accomplished that’s actually human.”

Nancy Frank is the Executive Director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, the winner among organizations with budgets over $1,000,000.  She says, “We were thrilled with the response.  We work our little nose to the grindstone every day and this kind of renewed our spirits in this hard year.”

The contest, held throughout July, asked people to submit reviews and ratings about nonprofits serving the cancer community.  The contest was sponsored by GreatNonprofits, GuideStar and Planet Cancer.

The results provide surprising and inspiring insights into the diversity of organizations that are considered effective and important by volunteers, donors and stakeholders of the cancer community.  This is the first ever list providing reviews of cancer fighting nonprofits by those who have actually experienced their work.

These unique results will be helpful to donors and supporters looking to get involved with cancer organizations.

“There are so many great nonprofits that don’t have an advertising budget and are not household names,” says Perla Ni, CEO and founder of GreatNonprofits. “Through this first-ever list of top-rated cancer nonprofits, you can see how some of these nonprofits literally have saved lives. Donors and volunteers who are interested in fighting cancer can now see which nonprofits are really making a difference.

The winning organizations of the 2009 GreatNonprofits Cancer Fighters Awards are:

Annual Budget Less Than $250,000  Oral Cancer Foundation  Newport Beach, Calif.

The Oral Cancer Foundation aims to reduce suffering, physical damage and disfigurement, and death caused by oral cancer. The foundation conducts advocacy and service work to proactively promote change in the public as well as medical/dental professional sectors. They provide the world’s largest web patient-to-survivor online support, and their web site is an outlet for oral cancer information.

“The Oral Cancer Foundation has saved my life. I found the site right after I was diagnosed with my first round of cancer. The forum members embraced me and helped me thru my treatments. They were there with me when I had my first recurrence less than a year later. The same warm, caring, knowledgeable people are still there helping me now with my third round of cancer. I have met many of these special people in person and am proud to call them my friends.”

-Honorable mention: The Seany Foundation

Annual Budget Between $250,000 and $1 Million  weSpark Cancer Support Center.  Sherman Oaks, Calif.

weSpark works to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients, their families, and their friends.  Offering multiple services free of charge designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit of those dealing with cancer, people can experience programs as varied as Tai Chi, Jewelry Making, Dream Workshops, and more.

“I believe weSpark played a huge role in [my mom] successfully overcoming cancer. After one of her surgeries I remember her saying she was upset that she was in bed because she was missing her weSpark friends. Having the next meeting to look forward too gave her motivation to recover quickly. Thank you weSpark!”

-Honorable mention: Cancer Schmancer Foundation

Annual Budget More Than $1 Million  Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation  Irvine, Calif.

PCRF works to improve the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with malignant cancers. Over 80% of every dollar given to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation goes directly to fund research that focuses on medical treatment protocols for childhood cancers. The Foundation has raised over $22 million through gifts from individuals, special giving programs, events, charitable foundations and businesses, grants, and the sale of holiday cards drawn by children fighting cancer.

“My grandaughter was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 22 months ago. She has an excellent prognosis and only 2 months of treatment left to go. She could never have had such a positive outcome where it not for recent research and advances in the field funded by PCRF and similar organizations. The people at PCRF are dedicated and caring and offer many wonderful ways for people to get involved and volunteer or donate. Families like ours are extremely grateful to this organization for all it has done to help children survive cancer.”

-Honorable mention: The American Cancer Society

Best of Northeast  I’m Too Young For This!  New York, N.Y.

This organization addresses the difficulties faced by young adults with regards to cancer. Their programs, services, and public outreach include on/offline peer support, community development, conference planning, social media, medical education, and college campus activismare intended to provide a meaningful quality of life for any young adult affected by cancer.

“I[2]Y has been a big help for me. After being diagnosed and treated, finding a support group to help me had been difficult. I tried the standard ones, but they did not fit me. I heard about I[2]Y from a coworker and went to a movie night. Then a happy hour. Then a conference. I have met some wonderful and supportive people. I have made great friendships and I know where I can turn to talk about the hardships and fears that I am going through. They have helped me overcome some of my fears and put me in touch with others who I can talk about my experiences with.”

Best of South  Spirit Jump  Boynton Beach, Fl.

Spirit Jump’s goal is to help cancer fighters stay strong by providing uplifting cards and inspirational gifts from “Jumpers” to help fighters maintain the strength they need every day as they battle this terrible disease.

“Spirit Jump is the most incredible organization I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. The charitable efforts of its founders, Meaghan and Stacy, not only help cancer victims, but uplift the spirits of the people who have answered the Spirit Jump call as well. There is nothing that compares to the “feel good” that comes with helping out another, especially when the chips are really down. Sending cups of kindness to friends in need is what it’s all about, and Spirit Jump affords me that opportunity (right from my own livingroom, no less!). Aside from motherhood, I never felt like I was making a real difference in the world, until Spirit Jump crossed my path. I can’t say thank you enough for this organization. Spirit Jump serves to remind us all that we ALL matter.”

Best of Midwest   Mission4Maureen  South Euclid, Oh.

A memorial to Maureen Lowis, Mission4Maureen raises funds to help others with the financial burdens of medical treatments for brain cancer. When families are in need, they provide financial aid for medical bills, child care, housing payments, utility bills, transportation, medication and more.

“Mission4Maureeen was a God send. After our daughter was diagnosed with a maligant brain tumor, I stopped working the day of diagnosis to take care of her. This cut our house hold income to less than half. Within no time our reserve funds were used up. Mission4Maureen has paid two months of mortgage for us. We would have been out on the street with a very sick child had it not been for this network.”

Best of Northwest  Breast Cancer Prevention Fund  Everett, Wa.

The Breast Cancer Prevention Fund saves women’s lives through promotion of early detection and prevention methods of breast cancer. They conduct awareness and education and provide funds to pay for mammograms for uninsured women.

“I was called by the Breast Cancer Prevention Fund, and encouraged to schedule a mammogram. Since I was uninsured, this is not something I could afford to do. They told me that they would pay for the mammogram and helped me get scheduled with a local clinic. I had the mammogram the following week. 3-days later the clinic called and asked me to come in again. Long and short, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now 3-years cancer free. This group saved my life. What more can I say. These guys are for real!”

Best of Mountain   First Descents  Vail, Co.

First Descents works to cure young adult cancer patients of the emotional effects of cancer. Through whitewater kayaking and other adventure sports, it challenges and empowers people to regain control of their lives in a safe, fun, and supportive environment. This year they will conduct nine week-long programs in six different states.

“First Descents provided me with an incredible experience that allowed me to truly “live my life to the fullest,” a feat I had never actually tried to achieve before. I was able to share a week of adventure, relaxation, and fun with a terrific group of volunteers and other young adult cancer survivors who allowed me to feel as if I could completely be myself. It was the first time in 3 years, since my cancer diagnosis, that I truly felt comfortable.”

Best of West   Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation  Santa Barbara, Ca.

A collaboration of patients, families, physicians, advocates, and researchers, this organization works to obtain a cure for mesothelioma.  They educate patients and families about the disease and available treatment options, and connect them with a supportive community; fund promising research projects; and raise awareness of “meso” in both the public and private sectors.

“After a 2 week stay in the hospital, my husband was diagnosed w/pleural meso in March of 2008. He was only 51… The day of the diagnosis, I got on the internet & found MARF. After looking at other sites, MARF was the most informative & personable site & so started our relationship with staff, victims, volunteers, widows, caregivers and world of information to help in our fight with meso. Everyone is so caring & compassionate because they too, have been touched by this disease on a personal level. Most importantly this foundation has given us hope.”

About the 2009 Cancer Fighters Awards

The awards were hosted by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user-generated ratings and reviews of nonprofits, Planet Cancer, and Guidestar. Over the course of the Cancer Fighters Awards, more than 46,000 people visited the GreatNonprofits Web site, and 1864 reviews were posted about more than 120 cancer fighting organizations.

Reviews appear on as well, the premiere source for donor research on nonprofits.  Nonprofits with the most positive reviews in their budget category were determined the winners of the 2009 Cancer Fighters Awards. Those who submitted reviews were eligible to win prizes such as a free copy of “Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s” by Kairol Rosenthal, free milk for a year from Organic Valley Farms, delicious baked goods from Dancing Deer Baking Co., spa packages from Osmosis Day Spa and Sanctuary, hotel stays at Joie de Vivre Hotels, and more.  Reviews submissions took place from July 1st to July 31st, 2009.

Surgeons carry out world’s first face, jaw and tongue transplant

Author: staff

Surgeons have successfully carried out the world’s first face, jaw and tongue transplant.

They spent 16 hours operating on a man of 43 whose face had been horribly disfigured by radiotherapy for a tumour 11 years ago.

The patient will eventually be able to eat, taste, swallow and speak again.

Pedro Cavadas, who led 30 Spanish medics in Valencia in the day-long op, said yesterday: “The patient’s seen himself and is delighted.”

The case was marred by controversy after authorities released details about the donor against his family’s wishes. French woman Isabelle Dinoire received the first face transplant four years ago after losing her nose, lips and chin when a dog mauled her.

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Laser microsurgery for tongue cancer

Author: staff

A retrospective chart review undertaken at a Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, indicates that transoral laser surgery to treat cancer of the tongue is as effective as open surgery. The less invasive procedure may also improve patients’ quality of life. The study reviewed data from 71 patients who underwent transoral laser microsurgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the base of the tongue. At 24 months, overall survival was 90% and disease-specific survival was 94%. Of the 46 patients for whom quality-of-life information was obtained, the majority reported mild or no pain, minimally impaired to normal swallowing, and normal speech.

Surgical approaches through the neck once provided the only safe access to the base of the tongue, although the voice box, trachea, esophagus, lymph nodes, muscles, and large nerves make surgical resection in this area difficult. Significant complications often included impairment of speech and of swallowing. Transoral laser microsurgery, using an endoscope with a lighted camera, a microscopic lens, and a CO-2 laser, enables surgeons to treat cancers that were not treatable previously.

Dr Guy Petruzzelli, study author and chief of the Section of Head, Neck and Skull Base Surgery at Rush University Medical Center, noted, “Due to the precision of this surgery, most patients require less adjuvant chemotherapy, and in some cases patients will not need chemotherapy. And the functional outcomes are superior. Patients are able to speak and swallow much sooner and better than with an open technique.”

Of patients responding, 91% reported mild or no pain, and 97% had minimal impairment or normal swallowing function. Use of a gastrostomy tube averaged slightly more than 3 months overall. None of the patients interviewed were using a gastrostomy tube after 18 months. In addition, 69.6% of patients reported normal speech.

American Journal of Hematology/Oncology, August 2009

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Worldwide study shows MI risk increases with all forms of tobacco use

Source: HeartWire
Author: Steve Stiles

London, UK – Tobacco use significantly ups the risk of nonfatal MI independently of its varied methods around the world and whether exposure is direct or through second-hand smoke, according to INTERHEART, a large, broadly international case-control study [1]. The findings sharpen and add a global perspective to the massive epidemiologic evidence implicating smoking and other tobacco uses as causes of heart disease.

The analysis, which appears in the August 19, 2006 issue of the Lancet, suggests that current cigarette smoking confers nearly triple the adjusted MI risk faced by persons who have never smoked and that the hazards can’t be escaped by resorting to other forms of tobacco use. The study looked at the effects of not only smokeless tobacco but also less common modes of smoking, including some that are primarily limited to specific geographic regions such as South and Central Asia.

“Our findings show that tobacco in any form is harmful,” write the authors, Dr Koon K Teo (McMaster University-Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, ON) and associates. Other noteworthy observations include a significant dose-response relationship between the number of cigarettes consumed daily and the likelihood of MI, even at only a few cigarettes per day.

Commenting on the study for heartwireDr Ira S Ockene (University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester) said that it replicates much earlier work but “adds so much more,” including a global perspective not only geographically but in terms of spanning virtually all forms of tobacco exposure. Its data on the risks of chewing tobacco and second-hand smoke are important, he observed, “and it adds to what we know about the time it takes to derive a benefit from quitting.” Even most cardiologists, he said, don’t appreciate that the cardiovascular benefits of quitting are relatively rapid compared with the many years it takes for an improvement in lung-cancer risk.

In an interview with heartwire, lead author Teo also focused on the dramatic observed benefits of quitting. “Even for heavy smokers, the risk is reduced by about half. It’s never too late to quit, and the benefit comes pretty quickly. This is the message I’m telling my patients now.”

Teo et al studied tobacco-use patterns among 12 133 patients with a first acute MI and 14 435 age- and sex-matched community-based control subjects who had been recruited in 52 countries on virtually every continent. In their analysis of by far the most common use, cigarette smoking, which was adjusted for demographics, geography, and other variables:

  • Overall, the risk (odds ratio) of nonfatal MI among current smokers was 2.95 relative to that of never-smokers (p<0.0001). Risk was higher in younger smokers than in older ones and lower in women than in men.
  • The risk reached only 1.85 among former smokers within three years of quitting, although it persisted at 1.22 even among those cigarette-free for 20 years.
  • The MI risk climbed from 1.63 among persons smoking one to nine cigarettes per day to 4.59 for a rate of >20/day (p<0.0001 for both findings). Every additional daily cigarette corresponded to a 5.6% jump in risk, according to the analysis.
  • Less than half of controls reported no exposure to second-hand smoke. Those exposed only one to seven hours per week showed a significant MI risk of 1.24 relative to those without any exposure. The risk reached 1.62 for those exposed >21 hours per week.

The hazard wasn’t confined to traditional cigarettes. Smoking bidis, which the group described as “a small amount of tobacco wrapped in a dried temburini leaf and tied with a string” and more common than cigarettes in South Asia, showed a risk of 2.89 relative to tobacco nonuse. The risk for shisha smoking, or consuming tobacco through a water pipe, a common method in the Middle East, showed a risk of 2.16, they write.

Use of smokeless tobacco products was most common South-Central Asia. Chewing tobacco by itself more than doubled the MI risk. Persons who both chewed tobacco and smoked cigarettes had four times the MI risk of nonusers.

Such information can help in counseling patients from diverse cultural backgrounds who often don’t perceive alternative smoking methods to be as harmful as cigarettes, according to Teo. “If I tell my patient from say, South Asia, that a North American study showed harm [from smoking], they might say, well, you’re talking about Americans and Canadians, and I’m from a different part of the world.” The current study, he observed, should be more convincing in such cases.

“The overwhelming conclusion from this mass of data is that tobacco exposure—be it cigarettes, pipes, cigars, beedies, sheesha, or smokeless; second-hand or primary; filtered or nonfiltered, even at low levels—causes a large proportion of myocardial infarcts in men and women around the world,” write Drs Sarah A Rosner and Meir J Stampfer (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) in an accompanying editorial [2]. “The finding that very low levels of active smoking substantially increase risk lends further credence to the plausibility of second-hand smoke also being a major risk factor.”

August, 2009|Oral Cancer News|