Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pitt researchers receive patent for new head and neck cancer treatment

Author: staff

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have been awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the development of a new DNA therapy for head and neck cancers. The therapy targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein found on the surface of many types of cancer cells that causes them to multiply.

Standard treatments for head and neck cancers often are ineffective and tend to have debilitating side effects, explained Jennifer R. Grandis, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology at Pitt and director of the Head and Neck Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). “We set out to develop an alternative approach that is safe and effective for these cancers,” she said.

The new treatment is based on a form of genetic therapy called “antisense,” or AS, in which a synthesized strand of DNA or RNA targets the EGFR genes within a head and neck tumor. The therapy blocks the production of a protein produced by the gene. According to Dr. Grandis, expectations were exceeded in a phase I study of the therapy that was designed primarily to determine the safety and potential toxicity of EGFR AS injections in patients with advanced head and neck cancers.

“Not only were the AS injections well-tolerated, but tumors disappeared or shrank considerably in 29 percent of the patients,” said Dr. Grandis. “These results show that EGFR AS therapy has great potential as a safe, effective treatment.”

A phase II clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of EGFR AS injections in combination with the drug cetuximab and radiation therapy will soon be open for eligible patients. According to Ethan Argiris, M.D., professor of medicine at Pitt and principal investigator of the trial, the study will enroll patients 70 years of age or older with advanced head and neck cancers, who aren’t eligible for cisplatin, the chemotherapy often used to treat head and neck cancers.

Head and neck cancers are a group of biologically similar cancers originating from the upper aerodigestive tract, including the lip, mouth, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx and larynx, that affect more than 45,000 individuals in the U.S. each year. Head and neck cancers are strongly associated with environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and certain strains of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see

About UPCI
As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Photodynamic therapy linked to oral cancer benefit

Author: staff

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) appears useful in treating early-stage cancer of the mouth or oropharynx, either as a primary treatment or as an addition to unsuccessful surgery or radiation, according to research published in the January issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Vanessa Gayl Schweitzer, M.D., and Melissa L. Somers, M.D., of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, discuss the outcomes of 30 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, stage Tis-T2N0M0, in the mouth or oropharynx. Most had undergone prior surgery or radiation, in combination or alone. All received intravenous porfimer sodium followed by photoactivation.

Over an average follow-up of two years, the researchers found that 80 percent had complete remission. Twenty percent of patients were partial responders and had recurrences at points ranging from three to 26 months. Five patients — four of whom were among the complete responders — developed new primary head and neck tumors.

“PDT is a promising additional local surgical oncologic modality for primary treatment of selective superficial carcinomas of the oral cavity and oropharynx with low risk for nodal metastases,” the authors conclude. “The development of new and more tumor-specific photosensitizing agents with longer wave-length activation and deeper tissue penetration with shorter skin photosensitivity post-drug administration will expand the application of PDT for the treatment of superficial head and neck cancers.”

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Drinkers underestimate harm from alcohol

Author: OnMedica staff

More than half (55%) of people in England who drink alcohol wrongly believe that alcohol only damages your health if you regularly get drunk or binge drink, a poll by YouGov has shown.

YouGov questioned more than 2,000 adults and found that 83% of those who regularly drink more than the NHS recommended limits – 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men – don’t realise that their drinking is risking their long-term health.

An estimated 10 million adults in England are drinking above the recommended limits, so about 8.3 million people are potentially unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing.

Although 86% of drinkers surveyed said they knew that drinking alcohol is related to liver disease, far fewer realised it is also linked with breast cancer (7%), throat cancer (25%), mouth cancer (28%), stroke (37%) and heart disease (56%), along with other serious conditions.

The government has funded a £6 million campaign, backed by charities Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association, to warn drinkers of the unseen health damage caused by regularly drinking more than the NHS advises. Billboard, press and TV adverts will show drinkers the damage that is being done to their organs while they are drinking, whether in a pub or at home.

More than 9,000 people in the UK die from alcohol-related causes each year. The World Health Organisation estimates that 20% of alcohol-related deaths are from cancer, 15% are from cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and stroke, and 13% are from liver disease.

Research shows that a man regularly drinking more than two pints of strong lager a day could be three times more likely to have a stroke and three times more likely to get mouth cancer. A woman regularly drinking two large glasses of wine or more a day is 50% more likely to get breast cancer and twice as likely to have high blood pressure, which could lead to a stroke or a heart attack.

Joe Korner, director of communications for The Stroke Association, said: “We are pleased to be involved in this campaign because it alerts people to the long-term health risks of regular heavy drinking.

“Stroke is the biggest cause of severe adult disability and hits 150,000 people a year. So, it’s vital that people understand that women who persistently drink more than three units of alcohol a day and men who drink more then four, are more likely to get high blood pressure, the single biggest risk factor for stroke.“

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “While sensible drinking in moderation has been shown to offer some protection against heart disease, this should not be seen as a green light to start drinking.

“There are better ways to protect yourself from heart disease. The evidence is clear, regularly drinking above the recommended daily limits harms the heart as well as causing a host of other harmful effects.”

The campaign website,, launches on Monday 1 February and will feature interactive tools to arm people with the information they need to make healthier choices.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Serum prognostic markers in head and neck cancer

Source: Clincancerres

  1. François Meyer1,
  2. Élodie Samson1,2,
  3. Pierre Douville1,
  4. Thierry Duchesne2,
  5. Geoffrey Liu3 and
  6. Isabelle Bairati1

  1. Authors’ Affiliations:1Laval University Cancer Research Center and 2Département de Mathématiques et Statistique, Laval University, Quebec, Quebec and 3Medical Biophysics Department, Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Corresponding Author:
    François Meyer, Cancer Research Center, Laval University, CHUQ, HDQ, 11, Cote Du Palais, Quebec, Quebec, G1R 2J6 Canada. Phone: 418-525-4444-15581; Fax: 1-418-691-2970; E-mail:


Purpose: Recognized prognostic factors do not adequately predict outcomes of head and neck cancer (HNC) patients after their initial treatment. We identified from the literature nine potential serum prognostic markers and assessed whether they improve outcome prediction.

Experimental Design: A pretreatment serum sample was obtained from 527 of the 540 HNC patients who participated in a randomized controlled trial. During follow-up, 115 had a HNC recurrence, 110 had a second primary cancer (SPC), and 216 died. We measured nine potential serum prognostic markers: prolactin, soluble interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor-α, vascular endothelial growth factor, IL-6, squamous cell carcinoma antigen, free β-human choriogonadotropin, insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, and soluble epidermal growth factor receptor. Cox regression was used to identify a reference predictive model for (a) HNC recurrence, (b) SPC incidence, and (c) overall mortality. Each serum marker was added in turn to these reference models to determine by the likelihood ratio test whether it significantly improved outcome prediction. We controlled for the false discovery rate that results from multiple testing.

Results: IL-6 was the only serum marker that significantly improved outcome prediction. Higher levels of IL-6 were associated with a higher SPC incidence. The hazard ratio comparing the uppermost quartile to the lowest quartile of IL-6 was 2.68 (95% confidence interval, 1.49-4.08). IL-6 was also associated with SPC-specific mortality but not with mortality due to other causes. No marker improved outcome prediction for cancer recurrence or overall mortality.

Conclusions: IL-6 significantly improves outcome prediction for SPC in HNC patients. Clin Cancer Res; 16(3); 1008–15

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

HPV vaccine could help prevent other cancers, too: studies

Author: Tom Spears, Canwest News Service

Cancer doctors are starting to believe that the human papilloma — or HPV — HPV, intended to prevent cervical cancer, will likely prevent other cancers as well — and in men as well as women.

Recent research is linking the HPV virus to a variety of cancers in the head and neck, and the urinary-genital tract, says Dr. Glenn Bauman, chairman of oncology at the University of Western Ontario faculty of medicine and a radiation oncologist at the London Health Sciences Centre.

If so, the vaccine usually given to girls at the beginning of their teenage years could also benefit boys. Boys so far have not been offered HPV vaccine, although some experts argue both sexes should be vaccinated to slow the spread of papilloma.

The virus is estimated to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and 90 per cent of genital warts. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer for Canadian women aged 20 to 44. A variety of recent studies has been finding the DNA from the common virus inside cancer tumours.

“I think the tip of the iceberg is this whole HPV connection with cancer,” Bauman said. “What’s interesting is that we’re finding — and we’ve known this for a while, but we’re beginning to appreciate it — that HPV plays a role in other ‘mucosal’ cancers.”

This means a variety of cancer types in the head and neck, and also the urinary tract and genital region; tonsils, pharynx, the base of the tongue, the upper digestive tract; also the vulva, penis, vagina and anal canal. None of these is as common as cervical cancer. HPV doesn’t appear to cause prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men’s reproductive system.

This month, a McGill University study of heterosexual couples found that more than half of young adults engaged in a new sexual relationship were infected with HPV. Of this group of young adults, 44 per cent had the type of HPV that causes cancer.

HPV vaccine, which prompted controversy when officials started recommending it for Canadian girls as young as nine years old over the past few years, is too new for anyone to measure its success yet in preventing these cancers. But a wave of recent studies has been making the connection between HPV infection and developing these cancers in the first place:

• A 2007 study at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that oral HPV infection is “the strongest risk factor” for a relatively uncommon throat cancer called oropharyngeal cancer, “regardless of tobacco and alcohol use.” The virus raised the risk of this cancer by 32 times compared to people with no HPV infection;

• Cancer doctors at the University of Michigan report an increase in nasopharyngeal cancer — another relatively rare form found behind the nose and above the throat — after HPV infection;

• In 2004, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that DNA from the HPV virus was present in 10 to 20 per cent of all head and neck squamous cell tumours; and

• More recently, the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire reported that HPV may even cause a common type of skin cancer. It cautions that sun exposure is still the main cause.

“Just the fact that a viral infection is responsible for some fairly significant cancers in people, and that we have a vaccine against it — I think that’s novel and that represents a new direction,” Bauman said.

There may turn out to be other viruses responsible for still more cancers, he suggests. He also suspects that future research will show that the environment inside the body plays a big role, especially if someone suffers from a chronic form of inflammation.

“We’ve seen quite a dramatic decrease in stomach cancers” in recent years, and he suspects that big improvements in treating stomach ulcers and gastritis (using antibiotics) may have helped.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Radiation was the cure, and the killer

Author: Walt Bogdanich

As Scott Jerome-Parks lay dying, he clung to this wish: that his fatal radiation overdose — which left him deaf, struggling to see, unable to swallow, burned, with his teeth falling out, with ulcers in his mouth and throat, nauseated, in severe pain and finally unable to breathe — be studied and talked about publicly so that others might not have to live his nightmare.

Sensing death was near, Jerome-Parks summoned his family for a final Christmas. His friends sent two buckets of sand from the beach where they had played as children so he could touch it, feel it and remember better days.

Jerome-Parks died several weeks later in 2007. He was 43.

A New York City hospital treating him for tongue cancer had failed to detect a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but on three consecutive days.

Jerome-Parks experienced the wonders and the brutality of radiation. It helped diagnose and treat his disease. It also inflicted unspeakable pain.

Yet while Jerome-Parks had hoped that others might learn from his misfortune, the details of his case have until now been shielded from public view by the government, doctors and the hospital.

Americans today receive far more medical radiation than ever before. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, and more than half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy. Without a doubt, radiation saves countless lives, and serious accidents are rare.

But patients often know little about the harm that can result when safety rules are violated and ever more powerful and technologically complex machines go awry. To better understand those risks, The New York Times examined thousands of pages of public and private records and interviewed physicians, medical physicists, researchers and government regulators. The Times found that while this new technology allows doctors to more accurately attack tumors and reduce certain mistakes, its complexity has created new avenues for error — through software flaws, faulty programming, poor safety procedures or inadequate staffing and training. When those errors occur, they can be crippling.

“Linear accelerators and treatment planning are enormously more complex than 20 years ago,” said Dr. Howard I. Amols, chief of clinical physics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. But hospitals, he said, are often too trusting of the new computer systems and software, relying on them as if they had been tested over time.

In June, The Times reported that a Philadelphia hospital gave the wrong radiation dose to more than 90 patients with prostate cancer — and then kept quiet about it. In 2005, a Florida hospital disclosed that 77 brain cancer patients had received 50 percent more radiation than prescribed because one of the most powerful — and supposedly precise — linear accelerators had been programmed incorrectly for nearly a year.

“My suspicion is that maybe half of the accidents we don’t know about,” said Dr. Fred A. Mettler Jr., who has written books on medical radiation.

Identifying radiation injuries can be difficult. Organ damage and radiation-induced cancer might not surface for years or decades, while underdosing is difficult to detect because there is no injury. While the worst accidents can be devastating, most radiation therapy “is very good,” Mettler said. “And while there are accidents, you wouldn’t want to scare people to death where they don’t get needed radiation therapy.”

In December 2004, New York state health officials issued a special alert, asking hospitals to be more vigilant when using radiation. As this warning circulated, Jerome-Parks was dealing with what he thought was a nagging sinus infection. He would not know until two months later that cancer had been growing at the base of his tongue. It was a surprising diagnosis for a relatively young man who rarely drank and did not smoke.

In time, his doctors and family came to suspect that his cancer was linked to the neighborhood where he had once worked, in the shadow of the World Trade Center. Several years before, he had taken a job there as a systems analyst at CIBC World Markets. His starting date: September 2001.

What Jerome-Parks most remembered about Sept. 11, his friends say, were bodies falling from the sky. He was particularly haunted by the memory of a man dressed in a suit and tie, plummeting to his death. In the days and weeks that followed, Jerome-Parks donated blood, helped a family search for a relative and volunteered at the Red Cross, driving search-and-rescue workers back and forth from what became known as “the pile.” Whether toxic dust caused his cancer may never be known, though his doctor would later say he believed there was a link.

He approached his illness as any careful consumer would, evaluating the varied treatment options in a medical mecca like New York. Yet in the end, what led him to St. Vincent’s Hospital, the primary treatment center for Sept. 11 victims, was a recommendation from an acquaintance at his church, which had become an increasingly important part of his life.

The Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan, known for its social advocacy, reflected how much Jerome-Parks had changed from his days in Gulfport, Miss., where he was raised in a conservative family, eventually moving to Toronto and then New York, where he met his Canadian-born wife, Carmen.

In turning to St. Vincent’s, Jerome-Parks selected a hospital that had been courting cancer patients as a way to solidify its shaky financial standing. Its cancer unit, managed by Aptium Oncology, a unit of one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca, was marketing a new linear accelerator as though it had Jerome-Parks specifically in mind. Its big selling point was “smart-beam technology.”

“When the CFO of a New York company was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor at the base of his tongue,” promotional material for the new accelerator stated, “he also learned that conventional radiation therapy could potentially cure him, but might also cause serious side effects.”

The solution, the ad said, was a linear accelerator with 120 computer-controlled metal leaves, called a multileaf collimator, which could more precisely shape and modulate the radiation beam. This treatment is called Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, or IMRT. The unit St. Vincent’s had was made by Varian Medical Systems.

Dr. Salvatore M. Caruana, then a head and neck surgeon at St. Vincent’s, gave Jerome-Parks another option: surgery. In the end, Jerome-Parks chose radiation, with chemotherapy.

The investigation into what happened to Jerome-Parks quickly turned to the Varian software that powered the linear accelerator. Government investigators ended up blaming both St. Vincent’s, for failing to catch the error, and Varian, for its flawed software.

Jerome-Parks appreciated the irony of his situation: that someone who earned a living solving computer problems would be struck down by one.

Carmen Jerome-Parks, who was providing her husband round-the-clock care, refused to surrender.

“Prayer is stronger than radiation,” she wrote in the subject line of an e-mail to friends. Prayer groups were formed, and Mass was celebrated in his hospital room on their wedding anniversary. Linda Giuliano, one of the couple’s friends, believed that Jerome-Parks knew prayer would not be enough.

“At some point, he had to turn the corner, and he knew he wasn’t going to make it,” Giuliano said. “His hope was, ‘My death will not be for nothing.’ He didn’t say it that way, because that would take too much ego, and Scott didn’t have that kind of ego, but I think it would be really important to him to know that he didn’t die for nothing.”

Friends say the couple sought and received assurances that his story would be told.

Jerome-Parks’ parents were in Gulfport in February 2007, waiting for their house to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, when they got the news that their son had died.

In July, Jerome-Parks’ father stood across from the beach in Gulfport where his son’s friends had scooped up the sand they sent for his final Christmas.

“He taught us how to die,” Parks said. “He did it gracefully and thoughtfully and took care of everything. Most of us would lose it. He didn’t. He just did everything that he had to do, and then he let himself die.”

Parks said he had thought about starting a campaign to make medical mistakes public — but he never did. Nothing would ever come of it, he concluded.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

E-Cigarette company faces legal fights on multiple fronts

Author: Chris Rizo

Officials in California are making a strong push against one of the largest electronic cigarette retailers in the United States. It seems that the manufacturer — Smoking Everywhere LLC — is facing attack on at least two fronts in the Golden State: from the attorney general and a leading state lawmaker.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is suing Smoking Everywhere, alleging that the Sunrise, Fla.-based company is targeting minors in its marketing and making “misleading and irresponsible” claims that its tar-free alternatives to traditional cigarettes are safe.

“Smoking Everywhere launched a misleading and irresponsible advertising campaign targeting minors and claiming that electronic cigarettes do not contain harmful chemicals,” Brown said. “We are asking the Court to take these cigarettes off the market until the company has proven the products are safe.”

For its part, Smoking Everywhere claims that their products, which come in a range of flavors including mint, strawberry and chocolate, are designed to replicate smoking without some of the harmful side-effects of a traditional cigarette.

The electronic cigarette functions by vaporizing a liquid nicotine mixture that is derived naturally from tobacco plants. The user inhales vapor without the fire, flame, tar, carbon monoxide, ash or smell of traditional cigarettes.

In his lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Brown is seeking to bar Smoking Everywhere from doing business in California until the company can prove that its products are safe and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A similar lawsuit was filed last year against Smoking Everywhere by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, a Democrat. The case is pending, a Kroger spokesman said Thursday.

Complicating the two state cases could be a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of the District of Columbia, who in a 32-page opinion found that the FDA has no authority to regulate electronic cigarettes.

If Brown’s lawsuit did not mean enough legal trouble for the company in California, a state senator here has renewed her push to curb the sale of so-called e-cigarettes. But this time she is just targeting sales to minors.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, introduced her measure the day after Brown filed his lawsuit.

Corbett, chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had a bill last year that would have banned the sale of e-cigarettes in the state entirely but the legislation was vetoed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This year’s Senate Bill 882 would take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

“I am pleased to see the attorney general joining this very important fight against these deceptive and harmful products,” Corbett said in a statement. “We hope to move this urgency bill to the governor as quickly as possible to try to keep these addictive products out of the hands of minors.”

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

HSE apologises over diagnosis

Source: Irishtimes
Author: Mary Carolan

The HSE has apologised to the family of a deceased 59 year old man after admitting a two year delay in diagnosing his cancer and is also to pay over some €102,000 under a settlement of High Court proceedings.

John McNeive, Logalisheen, Ballindine, Co Mayo, died in August 2005 four months after he was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. Proceedings for mental distress and trauma arising from his death were brought on behalf of the family by his widow Eileen.

Liability in the case was admitted by the HSE.

The court heard Mr McNeive had been referred to University College Hospital Galway in April 2003, where he underwent a number of tests, after attending his GP with a headache.

Despite the concerns of his wife, family and his GP, it was not until April 2005 that a biopsy revealed he had extensive cancer. By that stage, the cancer had spread to his spleen and he died on August 13th of that year.

Yesterday, in a statement read before Mr Justice John Quirke, Patrick Hanratty SC for the HSE said his clients “acknowledged that there was a delay in the diagnosis of Mr McNeive”.

The HSE wished to apologise to the family of Mr McNeive for what had occurred and for all the hurt and distress caused to them, the statement added.

“The HSE acknowledges that his family could have done no more to help him,” added counsel. Eoin McCullough SC, for the family, said they were happy with the settlement proposed.

Approving the settement, Mr Justice Quirke offered the sympathies of the court to the McNeive family over “a very distressing matter.”

Mr McNeive, who had a brain tumour removed and a shunt inserted in 1966, had complained of headaches and swelling on his face in 2003 and 2004. He attended both UCGH and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. In Beaumont in August 2004, he underwent a number of tests, and a scan revealed a large tumour in his mouth.

In September 2004, a surgeon at UCGH concluded Mr McNeive did not have a tumour in his mouth, the family said. Two months later, a doctor at Beaumont concluded his problems were due to the shunt. However, after an operation to remove the shunt, a test showed there was no infection.

It was also claimed Mr McNeive’s situation was left to deteriorate further after that and that other symptoms of mouth cancer were ignored.

The HSE, it was argued had failed properly diagnose Mr McNeive’s tumour, failed to follow up on the results of tests, failed to act with any haste, ignored evidence of a tumour, and failed to provide him with adequate pain control or drugs because the diagnosis had not been made.

It was claimed, ad the HSE diagnosed Mr McNeive’s condition in August 2004, he could have undergone surgery and radiotherapy and, on the balance of probabilities, would have survived.

In a statement, Mrs McNeive and her sons David and Michael welcomed the HSE’s acknowledgment of the delay in diagnosing the illness that preceded Mr McNeive’s death.

The statement said John’s “irreplaceable love and warmth are sadly missed and his passing has left a void in our lives.”

“We hope that by highlighting the delay in the care he received, lessons will be learned and systems and procedures will be improved and that there will be better communication within the HSE,” the family added. Their motivation for bringing this case “was to seek an apology from the HSE”, they said.

They also called for “the need for reform in the law in relation to compensation in cases such as this.” The amount available for mental distress compensation where a person died was €25,394.76, which seemed “paltry when contrasted with some of the amounts of money awarded for other, perhaps less serious cases”.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Idera obtains clinical milestone under collaboration with Merck

Author: staff

Idera Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company, has achieved a milestone under its worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

The milestone was achieved upon initiation of a Phase II trial by Merck KGaA of EMD 1201081, a novel agonist of toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), in combination with cetuximab in second-line cetuximab-naive patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company is entitled to receive a payment of E3 million from Merck KGaA during the first quarter of 2010. The clinical trial is being conducted in eight countries, including the US.

Idera Pharmaceuticals entered into a worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in December 2007 for the research, development and commercialization of Idera’s TLR9 agonists, including IMO-2055, for the potential treatment of certain cancers.

In addition to the clinical study announced today, under the company’s collaboration with Merck KGaA, EMD 1201081 is currently being evaluated in a Phase Ib clinical trial in combination with Tarceva and Avastin in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and in a Phase Ib clinical trial in combination with Erbitux and an irinotecan-containing treatment regimen in patients with colorectal cancer.

Alice Bexon, vice president of clinical development at Idera, said: “We are very pleased with Merck KGaA’s initiation of this randomized Phase II clinical trial of EMD 1201081 in combination with cetuximab in patients with head and neck cancer.

“Under our collaboration with Merck KGaA, the use of EMD 1201081 with cetuximab is an important step forward in the development of our novel TLR9 agonists in combination with selected targeted agents for the treatment of solid tumors.”

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Helping cancer patients with their self image

Author: staff

Thirty-four-year-old Angela Gass has difficulty swallowing and speaking. She lost part of her tongue and jawbone to a 12-year battle with cancer. “They reconstructed all of it using other parts of my body,” says Angela. The fight to survive the cancer and the numerous surgeries eventually took more than just a physical toll.

“I was depressed. I was embarrassed and I didn’t want to leave my house,” says Angie.

She enrolled in the pilot phase of a body image therapy program underway at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. “Patients don’t feel at times comfortable talking with their doctor or healthcare providers about these issues,” says Michelle Fingeret, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist

Issues like feeling guilty about appearance-related concerns and dealing with social situations.

“A lot of times a patient will just start crying to me right away and saying you know no one’s ever talked to me about this before and I don’t feel, I feel so vain or I feel ashamed or guilty about bringing this up when I should just be happy I’m getting my cancer treated and I’m surviving cancer right now.”

“It kind of took weight off of me knowing it was okay to feel that way.”

A counselor initially meets with patients in person but also counsels them by phone for convenience. She discusses their concerns, helps them set goals and celebrates milestones with them.

“I think my first assignment was to go to the grocery store and not cover my face.”

“One of the phrases I tell people sometimes is fake it until you make it. Keep working at it and it will become more natural to you.”

The program helped Angela make an important decision about the rest of her life.

“Cancer took a lot from me and it wasn’t going to take anything else.” Now, Angela is enjoying the life she’s fought so hard to keep thanks to a program that takes cancer treatment beyond the treatment center.

January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|