Decreases in adolescent tobacco use leveling off

Source: Declines in rates of adolescent tobacco use have stagnated in the past few years, prompting the CDC to call for better prevention efforts, according to a recent report. “Smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of death and disability in the United States; and among adult established smokers in the United States, more than 80% began smoking before age 18 years,” CDC researchers wrote. To evaluate behaviors and attitudes toward tobacco use during the critical period of adolescence, the researchers used National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data collected from 2000 to 2009. The NYTS, which presents school-based survey responses from a cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of middle school and high school students, gleans information on youth tobacco use; smoking cessation; tobacco-related knowledge and attitudes; access to tobacco; media and advertising and secondhand smoke exposure. The study has been conducted every 2 years since 2000. From the 205 participating schools, 22,679 students responded. They were polled about any use of, current use of and experimentation with certain tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipes, bidis and kreteks. Survey questions also investigated students’ willingness to initiate tobacco use. Results indicated that 8.2% of middle school students and 23.9% of high school students reported current tobacco use in 2009, the researchers said, with 5.2% of middle school and 17.2% of high school students reporting current cigarette use. The researchers also noted that 21.2% of middle school and 24% of high school students were willing to start smoking cigarettes. Data [...]

2017-10-29T20:14:13-07:00August, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Can saliva-based HPV tests establish cancer risk and guide patient management?

Source: Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology doi:10.1016 Author: Mark W. Lingen, DDS, PhD Section Editor, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 6th most common malignancy in the world today.1 Despite numerous advances in treatment, the 5-year survival rate has remained modest. This poor outcome is due to several factors, including delayed diagnosis. Therefore, improved early detection and effective prevention strategies are critical components for management of this malignancy. The etiology of classical HNSCC has been attributed to chronic exposure to tobacco and alcohol.2 In addition, there is now sufficient evidence to support the contention that high-risk forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV) are a major causative factor for HNSCC of the tonsil, base of tongue, and oropharynx.3-8 The increasing importance of HPV in oropharyngeal HNSCC has raised considerable concern and uncertainty among healthcare professionals and patients. For example, I am often asked to describe the clinical features of HPV-associated premalignant lesions. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, the clinical spectrum of HPV-associated premalignant disease has not been adequately described. Furthermore, because this subset of HNSCC often develops in hard to- examine locations, such as tonsillar crypts, it can be exceedingly difficult to even identify the carcinomas. In the absence of such information, how can clinicians identify patients that are at increased risk for harboring an HPV-associated premalignant lesions or HNSCC? Recently, a large commercial diagnostic lab began offering a saliva-based test for the identification of oral HPV infections. As a result of this new offering, I [...]

Tobacco signs still target city’s poorer areas

Source: Author: Stephen Smith The signs, wrought in soothing italics, beckon with promises of tobacco “pleasure!’’ at low, low prices. Across Dorchester, Mattapan, and other city neighborhoods, big signs and little signs, vertical signs and horizontal signs trumpet the availability of cigarettes at corner stores and gas stations. They are plastered on façades and propped against windows, affixed to light poles and gas pumps. A dozen years after Massachusetts attempted to ban storefront tobacco ads within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, a prohibition thwarted by a tobacco company’s legal challenge, the signs remain prolific and prominent in Boston’s lower-income neighborhoods, especially those with substantial African-American and Hispanic populations. But now, empowered by Congress to regulate tobacco companies, the Food and Drug Administration is taking steps that could rein in the pastel-hued signs that industry foes say entice young customers to start smoking. With cigarette advertising banished from the airwaves and largely absent from billboards, storefronts are some of the last bastions of tobacco marketing. The continued presence of the ads is a testament, researchers said, to the deep reach of cigarette makers in poorer communities, where merchants said company representatives sometimes personally attach ads to store exteriors. “Tobacco advertising is still alive and well,’’ said Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control specialist at the Boston University School of Public Health. “There’s a widespread perception that somehow the tobacco advertising has gone away, that it’s been taken care of, that we don’t have to worry about this anymore. But [...]

Dermatologist discusses advantages of vaccines that prevent human papillomavirus and herpes zoster

Source: Author: public release Vaccines have a long history of successfully preventing disease and, in effect, improving the lives of countless Americans. Now, two serious diseases – human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes zoster – could become a thing of the past as people better understand the safety and efficacy of vaccines to prevent these serious viral infections in specific populations. At the American Academy of Dermatology's Summer Academy Meeting 2010 in Chicago, dermatologist Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD, FAAD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, highlighted the significant benefits associated with these two new vaccines. HPV Vaccine Protects Girls and Boys HPV is a group of viruses commonly linked to the sexually transmitted diseases known as genital HPV infection, which have long been associated with the development of cervical cancer, a life-threatening cancer. According to the American Cancer Society's 2010 estimates, approximately 4,210 women will die from cervical cancer in the United States. In 2006, a breakthrough vaccine was approved by the FDA for the prevention of HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for more than 90 percent of all cases of genital warts, and HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Although the vaccine is specifically approved for use in females 9 to 26 years of age, Dr. Weinberg acknowledged that many people are still reluctant to get the vaccination due to a lack of [...]

Radiation safety a priority at Johns Hopkins

Source: Author: Megan Martin, Communications Manager Recent media coverage surrounding treatment errors that have occurred in radiation therapy has only intensified discussions about the need to improve safety for patients with cancer. Joseph Herman, MD, a radiation oncologist at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and a featured panelist at the upcoming NCCN 2010 Patient Safety Summit, recently spoke with NCCN about policies Hopkins has implemented to ensure the safety of their radiation therapy patients. Radiation safety, an issue that has always received great attention at Hopkins, came to the forefront a few years ago as Hopkins was looking to develop a new program for high dose rate intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) – delivered through brachytherapy – and discovered that there were no clear standard guidelines or quality indicators for how to develop such a program. “Safety is of particular concern in this type of treatment because due to the high dose of radiation being emitted, clinicians cannot remain in the same room as the patient, a specific cause of anxiety for anesthesiologists,” said Dr. Herman. Using a patient simulator, the team walked through a variety of practice scenarios, identified areas for concern, and developed strategies to address potential safety issues. For example, Hopkins now uses cameras to monitor patient vital signs in the room and also has pre-measured medications available that can be delivered via a pole from another room – basically a “long-distance” method of treatment. Furthering their aim to identify points in the [...]

E-cigarettes: battle continues

Source: Author: staff A Broward e-cigarette distributor gave up a legal fight with Oregon over the sale of its products there, as the industry waits to see if it will sell its products as a drug device or tobacco product. A leading distributor of electronic cigarettes, Weston-based Smoking Everywhere, has agreed to halt sales in Oregon, Attorney General John Kroger announced Monday. The Oregon official said Smoking Everywhere did not seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and provides no evidence to support claims that "e-cigarettes'' are a safe alternative to conventional tobacco products. He also expressed concern that the company geared its marketing toward young people. Oregon last year became the first state to go to court to block the sale of the devices, some of which are designed to look like traditional cigarettes. Smoking Everywhere's electronic cigarettes have a battery-powered heating element and a replaceable plastic cartridge that contains chemicals, including liquid nicotine. The heat vaporizes the liquid for inhalation. In settling the suit, Smoking Everywhere admitted violating Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Besides no longer selling its products there, the company agreed to pay more than $95,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice. Elico Taieb, the company president, will pay another $25,000 and is barred from doing any business in Oregon that involves tobacco, nicotine or electronic cigarettes. Taieb's attorney, Jason Weaver, said, ``We believe the product is safe,'' and fought with Oregon on the premise of the product being sold when it was not approved [...]

Medicare expands coverage of tobacco cessation

Source: Author: Mike Lillis The Obama administration on Wednesday expanded Medicare to cover more seniors hoping to kick their tobacco habits. "Most Medicare beneficiaries want to quit their tobacco use," Health and Human Services Department (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement announcing the move. "Now, [they] can get the help they need." Under previous rules, Medicare covered tobacco-related counseling only for beneficiaries already suffering from a tobacco-related disease. Under the new policy, Medicare will cover as many as two tobacco-cessation counseling tries each year, including as many as four individual sessions per attempt. The move is the latest in a string of White House efforts to shift the nation's healthcare system toward prevention, in lieu of simply treating diseases after they've developed. If successful, the new tobacco policy could pay dividends. Of the 46 million Americans estimated to smoke, about 4.5 million are seniors older than 65, HHS says. And nearly 1 million more smokers are younger than 65, but eligible for Medicare benefits. They aren't cheap. Tobacco-related diseases are estimated to cost Medicare about $800 billion between 1995 and 2015. Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the expansion lends seniors valuable help "to avoid the painful — and often deadly — consequences of tobacco use." The change affects Medicare Parts A and B — hospital care and physician services — but not Part D, which already covers smoking-cessation drugs for all beneficiaries.

Man with short-term memory doesn’t know he’s dying

Source: Author: Ashley Singh A Pittsylvania County man is dying, but he doesn't know it. Stephen Kunze suffered a brain aneurysm 14 years ago. He has no short term memory. Stephen was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer and his wife, Martha, says they don't know how much time he has left. The only other choice she had, was to remove his tongue, but she couldn't do that to him. He'd wake up every morning not understanding what happened. She made the decision to enter the final chapter of their love story. Stephen thinks everyday is November 18th, 1996. That's the day he suffered a brain aneurysm and lost his short term memory. His wife, Martha, says it's so severe that her husband can watch an episode of M.A.S.H, rewind it, and watch it all over again. It's been like this for nearly 14 years. "His memory will last for the amount of the conversation, as soon as the conversation changes it's gone," she said. Last year, Stephen was diagnosed with tongue cancer. "It gets very hard to look at him and tell him that yes, you are going to die because you can't because it's like learning. Every time you say it to him it would be like learning it for the first time, all over again," said Martha. Martha believes not knowing he's about to die is what's keeping him alive. "He should be comatose in bed at those points but he's still up walking around," she said. [...]

New cancer drug gets dramatic results

Source: Technology Review Author: Emily Singer Researchers call the experimental drug a major success for targeted cancer therapies. An experimental drug designed to block the effects of a genetic mutation often found in patients with malignant melanoma, a deadly cancer with few existing treatments, significantly shrank tumors in about 80 percent of those who carried the mutation. The findings, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, signal a major success for so-called targeted cancer therapies, which are designed to block the effects of genetic mutations that drive the growth of cancer cells. "This study is a major breakthrough in cancer treatment, and for metastatic melanoma," saysMatthew Meyerson, an oncologist and researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Meyerson was not involved in the study. "It's a spectacular example of how genome-targeted therapies are beginning to help cancer patients." The drug in the current study inhibits activity of a protein called BRAF, which is overactive in 50 to 60 percent of malignant melanomas. Advances in genetic technologies over the last decade have allowed scientists to study the genetic mutations that underlie cancer in much greater detail. The result has been a new approach to drug design. Unlike chemotherapy, which can affect both healthy and cancerous cells and often triggers serious side effects, genetically targeted drugs act selectively on cancer cells that carry the mutation. Only a handful of such drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and most target rare mutations. The BRAF mutation, [...]

2010-08-29T07:37:09-07:00August, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

How secondhand cigarette smoke changes your genes

Source: Time Magazine Author: Alice Park As if the growing number of smoking bans in restaurants, airplanes and other public places isn't sending a strong enough message, researchers now have the first biological data confirming the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Scientists led by Dr. Ronald Crystal at Weill Cornell Medical College documented changes in genetic activity among nonsmokers triggered by exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. Public-health bans on smoking have been fueled by strong population-based data that links exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke and a higher incidence of lung diseases such as emphysema and even lung cancer, but do not establish a biological cause for the correlation. Now, for the first time, researchers can point to one possible cause: the passive recipient's genes are actually being affected. Crystal's team devised a study in which 121 volunteers — some of whom smoked and some of whom had never smoked — agreed to have samples of their airway cells studied for genetic activity. The subjects also provided urine so the researchers could measure the amount of nicotine and its metabolites, like cotinine, for an objective record of their exposure to cigarette smoke. Airway cells that line the bronchus, from the trachea all the way to the tiny alveoli deep in the lungs, are the first cells that confront cigarette smoke, whether it is inhaled directly from a cigarette or secondhand from the environment. Crystal's group hypothesized that any deterioration in lung function associated with cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including [...]

2010-08-29T07:36:37-07:00August, 2010|Oral Cancer News|
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