Monthly Archives: August 2012

High HPV Immunization Rates Achieved With PATH Initiative


August 30, 2012 (Montreal, Quebec) — Exceptionally high immunization rates against human papillomavirus (HPV) have been achieved in target-aged girls in India, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam as a result of a PATH initiative, researchers told delegates here at the Union for International Cancer Control World Cancer Congress 2012.

Vivien Tsu, PhD, MPH, director of the HPV vaccines project at PATH, reported that a minimum of 80% — and in some countries well over 90% — of school-aged girls received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine in the 4 countries to which the initiative has been directed over the past several years.

“The reason the program was successful in these countries, and likely many others, is that there is visible government endorsement and involvement in the program,” Dr. Tsu explained. “For the most part, people trust that the government is trying to help them, so if the government is saying ‘this is worth doing,’ the community participates.”

As Dr. Tsu noted, cervical cancer — at least 70% of which is caused by HPV types 16 and 18 — is a major health issue for women in low- and middle-income countries, with a projected incidence in 2030 of more than 750,000 women. In North America and Europe, cytology has been extremely effective in detecting cervical cancer and, more important, precursor lesions.

However, in low- and middle-income countries, “cytology has failed to have much of an impact,” Dr. Tsu explained, because these countries lack the necessary resources to offer widespread cervical cancer screening.

Fortunately, the 2 currently available HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) have been shown to safely and effectively protect against HPV 16 and 18, she added.

Importantly, both vaccines have also been prequalified by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is necessary for their widespread uptake. Based on WHO recommendations, girls 9 to 13 years of age are the main target group for HPV vaccination.

In an effort to demonstrate that target-aged girls can be successfully vaccinated, PATH directors rolled out 3 vaccine delivery strategies: a school-based HPV program, a community health HPV-based program, and an extension of an already existing outreach program to members of the community.

The process of “parental consent varied from country to country,” Dr. Tsu noted. In general, the Ministry of Health in each country dealt with the vaccine as they do any other vaccine. “Parents either signed an authorization allowing their daughters to be vaccinated or, if they did not want their child to be vaccinated, the child could simply say no, and they weren’t vaccinated,” she explained.

The initiative relied on a pulsed media campaign; the heavy use of radio spots during the weeks prior to immunization helped concentrate publicity.

In total, more than 66,000 young girls were eligible for the HPV program. As Dr. Tsu noted, 97% of the target age group in Vietnam received at least 1 dose of the vaccine and 96% received all 3 doses.

In India, 88% of the target group received at least 1 dose and 79% received all 3 doses. Immunization rates were also very high in Uganda, with more than 96% of eligible girls receiving 1 dose and 89% receiving all 3 doses. In Peru, more than 80% of eligible girls received all 3 doses.

“There was little difference in the coverage between strategies,” Dr. Tsu observed. “We saw that with strong community mobilization efforts and training of healthcare workers, the program can be successful.”

Dr. Tsu noted that healthcare workers who delivered the vaccine and teachers in schools where the HPV vaccine program was administered need to be trained to answer questions about the vaccine. “If the administrators don’t know the answers to [questions that are raised], they can’t inspire the confidence that is needed to make the program successful.”

A crisis communication plan also needs to be put into place to deal with any rumors that arise related to the vaccine and to dispel their potentially negative influence quickly.

Session chair Silvana Luciani, from the Pan American Health Organization, pointed out that the vaccines are “an important part of cervical cancer prevention.”

“What PATH is doing on some of its demonstration projects is really yielding critical information on the implementation of these vaccines and showing us that it is feasible, that you can attain high coverage rates. It’s one thing to have the vaccine, the actual implementation is quite another,” Luciani added.

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Even one drink can raise cancer risk – research


Just one alcoholic drink a day may increase the risk of cancer, according to a new study, which estimates that light drinking is responsible for 34,000 deaths a year worldwide.

New research based on more than 150,000 men and women shows that light drinking increases the likelihood of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and breast.

One drink a day increased the risk of cancer of the oesophagus by almost a third, according to the study being reported in the Annals of Oncology, which analysed data from more than 200 research projects. Low alcohol intake increased the risk of oral cavity and pharynx cancer by 17 per cent, and breast cancer in women by 5 per cent.

“Alcohol increases the risk of cancer even at low doses,” say the researchers.

“Given the high proportion of light drinkers in the population, and the high prevalence of these tumours, especially of breast cancer, even small increases in cancer risk are of great public health relevance.”

When it comes to enjoying your favourite drink and looking after your health, advice has often been complicated. Evidence suggests that drinking in moderation may decrease the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and dementia, leading many to believe a glass of wine a day is good for you.

But the damaging effects of drinking are well known. An estimated 2.2 million deaths a year worldwide are linked to alcohol, according to the report, and 3.6 per cent of all cancers are attributable to drinking alcohol.

Until now, almost all the evidence has come from studies that focused on people drinking moderate or large amounts of alcohol, or binge drinkers, and not those who drink less.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Milan and other centres in the US, France, Canada, Iran and Sweden, estimated that, in one year alone, 24,000 deaths from oesophageal cancer, 5000 from oral and pharyngeal, and 5000 from breast cancer, were due to light drinking.

The study defined light drinking as up to one drink a day or 12.5g or less of ethanol. Data on 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 non-drinkers was used to calculate the overall cancer risk. No link was found with other cancers that have been associated with heavier drinking, including colon, liver and larynx.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “This study adds to the evidence linking alcohol consumption to several types of cancer, and confirms that even light drinkers have a small but definite increase in the risk, particularly for those parts of the body, such as the throat and oesophagus, that come into direct contact with alcohol.

“People who wish to minimise their risk of cancer can help by cutting down on their drinking.”

Just why light intake increases the risk of some cancers and not others, is unclear. The researchers suggest that with cancer of the mouth, pharynx and oesophagus it may be because the alcohol comes into direct contact with the affected tissue. They suggest the rise in risk for breast cancer may be associated with increased levels of oestrogen, or higher levels of insulin-like growth factors that are produced by the liver after drinking alcohol.

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

HPV vaccine not just for girls

Author: staff

It’s been hard enough to persuade parents to get their preteen girls vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer. Now, health-care providers have an even harder sell: reaching the parents of boys.

The vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus, or HPV, has been approved for use in boys since it hit the market in 2006. And while boys don’t share the cervical cancer risk, the vaccination can help stop the virus’ spread, as well as protect boys from other cancers. But as of last fall, just more than 1 percent of all eligible boys had received the vaccine.

Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more strongly recommended that boys get it. And the American Academy of Pediatrics threw its support behind the series of three shots for 11- and 12-year-old boys. But experts don’t expect to see a significant increase in the number of boys who have received the vaccine when the CDC releases new vaccination statistics late this summer.

Why are so many parents reluctant to have their children vaccinated? Because HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, parents may fear that vaccinating their children sends the message that premarital sex is OK.

Nationwide, 49 percent of girls ages 13 to 17 have received at least one shot, and about 32 percent of girls have received the three doses required for complete protection, according to a CDC report.

For girls, doctors cite statistics about how the vaccine protects against the two most prevalent viral types that lead to the bulk of cervical cancers. Boys receive protection against genital warts and oral, anal and penile cancers, which are not as common as cervical cancer.

But vaccinating boys against HPV also will reduce the presence of the virus, which can be transmitted even if it does not show up as warts.

Still, many parents willing to have their daughters vaccinated balk at doing the same for their sons, doctors say.

“It’s funny. They’re a little hesitant to do it,” said Dr. Sarah Stelzner, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. “They see it as a problem for girls. They understand preventing cervical cancer, but I don’t think that they understand the public health part.”

No studies have found any safety issues with the vaccines. But with all the parent sentiment against the shot, experts say doctors must push extra hard to persuade boys’ parents.

However, many physicians don’t advise their patients to consider the shot, said Dr. Darron Brown, a professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who was instrumental in developing the vaccine.

“Doctors are not in tune with recommending it,” Brown said. “They’re not aware of the importance. They’re not aware of the benefits to boys and the health of the population.”

Some physicians agree that vaccinating boys hasn’t been a priority.

“Right now it’s still a big drive to get the girls vaccinated,” said Dr. Carrie Melloh, a family medicine doctor with Community Physician Network in Fishers, Ind. “It hasn’t been a big drive to get the boys vaccinated.”

One obstacle: insurance. Most insurance covers the vaccine for girls, and Medicaid covers it for boys. But Melloh has encountered patients who must pay out of pocket. The cost of the three shots needed for full protection can range from $360 to $400.

Economics aside, the vaccine does not speak to parents of boys the same way it does parents of girls, Melloh said.

“With girls, we see the cancer benefit. With boys, the only indication is for genital warts,” she said. “I don’t think we look at it the same because it’s a prevention of cancer versus prevention of warts.”

Part of the problem could be the young age of targeted patients. The idea is to protect patients before they are exposed to HPV, so experts target their efforts to the preteen crowd in the hope that they could reach them before they become sexually intimate.

At IU’s clinics, which serve 13- to 17-year-olds, doctors routinely offer — and patients and their parents routinely accept — the shot. Nationally, vaccination rates are higher for 15- to 16-year-olds than for younger teens, said Dr. Gregory Zimet, co-leader of the Cancer Control Program at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center and principal investigator of Cervical Cancer-Free Indiana.

And some parents welcome the shot. Ami Anderson of Indianapolis remembers a mother at her children’s preschool who died of cervical cancer. When her fifth-grade son brought home a flier about the shot, she had no doubt she would have him vaccinated.

Anderson doesn’t recall whether her son’s pediatrician has mentioned the shot, but she plans to bring it up at his next appointment. She wants her child to wait to have sex, but she doesn’t see the shot as encouraging sexual activity.

“I am hopeful that is true (that he abstains), but I’m not willing to take that risk,” she said.

Beth Deane, mother of an 11- and 14-year-old, said she may not tell her sons what the shots are for.

Instead, she’ll just say, “It’s another vaccine to keep you healthy.”

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Link between coffee and dental care – lower your oral cancer risk

Author: Jenny L McCoy

Studies have already shown that coffee may benefit dental care by reducing the risk of developing cavities. Now there’s even more good news for java junkies. Researchers have discovered that drinking a lot of coffee actually lowers your risk of mouth and throat cancer.

According to the findings featured in WebMD, people who drink more than four servings of coffee daily have nearly a 40% lower chance of contracting mouth or throat cancer when compared to people who don’t drink coffee. For those who drank less than five cups of coffee daily, the level of protection fell to still significant 4% lower odds for contracting mouth and throat cancer for each cup of coffee consumed each day. Protection for oral and pharyngeal cancer was evident, but protection against cancer of the larynx was not.

Coffee’s protective effect was shown to remain intact even for drinkers and smokers, despite the fact that tobacco and alcohol consumption are linked to head and neck cancers. Additionally, the protection effect didn’t demonstrate a boost by consuming fruits and vegetables, which are also known to protect against head and neck cancers.

The researchers at the University of Milan reached these findings when they analyzed nine studies comparing 5,139 people with head and neck cancer to 9,028 people without cancer.

So, which ingredient in coffee is responsible for reducing the risk of oral cancer? The study dismissed caffeine as a likely possibility since drinking tea, even in mass quantities, was not protective.

The researchers pointed out that coffee contains hundreds of chemicals. Of those, cafestol and kahweol have anti-cancer properties. However, future studies will have to determine more decidedly if these chemicals actually protect against cancer in people.

Previous studies in Wired Magazine have credited Trigonelline, an alkaloid, in coffee as a cavity-fighting agent. While the ingredient is recognized for giving coffee its taste, it’s also proven to prevent craters from forming in teeth, averting the cavity-causing bacterium Streptococcus from attaching to teeth.

The American Dental Association reminds us that coffee alone cannot create optimal dental health. In fact, excess coffee can stain teeth. The ADA recommends traditional dental care that includes brushing twice daily, flossing each day, eating a balanced diet, and regularly visiting the dentist.

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

It Costs More, but Is It Worth More?

Source: The New York Times- Opinion Pages


If you want to know what is wrong with American health care today, exhibit A might be the two new proton beam treatment facilities the Mayo Clinic has begun building, one in Minnesota, the other in Arizona, at a cost of more than $180 million dollars each. They are part of a medical arms race for proton beam machines, which could cost taxpayers billions of dollars for a treatment that, in many cases, appears to be no better than cheaper alternatives.

Proton beam therapy is a kind of radiation used to treat cancers. The particles are made of atomic nuclei rather than the usual X-rays, and theoretically can be focused more precisely on cancerous tissue, minimizing the danger to healthy tissue surrounding it. But the machines are tremendously expensive, requiring a particle accelerator encased in a football-field-size building with concrete walls. As a result, Medicare will pay around $50,000 for proton beam therapy for a patient with prostate cancer, roughly twice as much as it would if the patient received another type of radiation.

The higher price would be worth it if proton beam therapy cured more people or significantly reduced side effects. But there is no evidence showing that this is true, except for a handful of rare pediatric cancers, like brain and spinal cord cancer. For children, the treatment does a better job of limiting damage to normal brain cells and reducing the risk of cognitive impairment and hearing loss. But — fortunately — fewer than 3,500 American children get these cancers each year. It is impossible to keep all nine existing proton beam centers in full use, much less the approximately 20 others in planning or construction, with so few patients.

To generate sufficient revenue, proton beam facilities need to treat patients with other types of cancer. Consequently, they have been promoted for patients with lung, esophageal, breast, head and neck cancers. But the biggest target by far has been prostate cancer, diagnosed in nearly a quarter of a million men each year.

There is no convincing evidence that proton beam therapy is as good as — much less better than — cheaper types of radiation for any one of these cancers. There has not been a single randomized trial, only small, short-term studies. Such trials cannot evaluate the therapy’s long-term outcomes, nor resolve the concerns that some experts have raised regarding a potentially increased risk of hip fractures, bowel problems or other delayed effects associated with the therapy’s treatment for prostate cancer.

So why is the venerable Mayo Clinic building two proton beam facilities? Because it’s competing against Massachusetts General Hospital, M. D. Anderson in Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, Loma Linda in California — all of which have one. With Medicare reimbursement so generous, and patients and doctors eager for the latest technology, building new machines is sane, profitable business for hospitals like Mayo.

But it is crazy medicine and unsustainable public policy.

One solution is for Medicare to simply refuse to pay for proton beam treatment except for diseases where there is valid evidence that it is clinically superior, as many private insurers do. This would certainly help keep costs down, and it would also encourage manufacturers and researchers to actually conduct studies comparing proton beam therapy to other treatments.

However, it is often difficult to begin clinical trials without some reimbursement for the treatment that is being studied. So a second option is “coverage with evidence development.” In this approach, Medicare would pay for proton beam treatment for patients with prostate and other cancers, but only if the patients were enrolled in a randomized trial that would compare the outcomes of their treatment to those from surgery, other kinds of radiation or active surveillance. Medicare has used this approach sparingly, but it should be applied to more cases like this one.

The most promising option is a new approach called dynamic pricing. Medicare would pay more for proton beam therapy, but only for diseases that are proven to be treated more effectively by the therapy than by other forms of radiation. For cancers like prostate, it would pay only what it pays for the cheaper alternatives. But if studies were done showing that proton beam therapy was better than other treatments, the payment would go up. If no studies were done, or the new evidence demonstrated no advantages, then coverage would continue, but at the lower reimbursement.

Of course hospitals could continue charging patients more for proton beam therapy, and patients who wanted the treatment could pay the difference themselves. But this should not be seen as unfair to those who can’t afford it, because there are alternatives that are just as effective.

Everyone wants the best available care, especially for life-threatening diseases like cancer. But that doesn’t mean Americans should pay exorbitant costs for treatments that can’t be shown to be better than other, cheaper, options. If the United States is ever going to control our health care costs, we have to demand better evidence of effectiveness, and stop handing out taxpayer dollars with no questions asked.


Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist and former White House adviser, is a vice provost and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Steven D. Pearson, a general internist, is the president of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment.

A version of this article ran in print on January 3, 2012.

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Researchers Identify Chemical Linked to Oral Cancer Risk in Smokeless Tobacco

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 22, 2012 — Dip, chew, snuff, and other types of smokeless tobacco are known to increase risk for oral cancer. Now new research in rats is zeroing in on exactly how this may occur.

The findings were presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

The newly identified cancer-causing culprit in these products is (S)-NNN. It is part of a larger family of chemicals called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are also found in such foods as beer and bacon. They form naturally in the stomach when people eat foods containing high levels of nitrite. Nitrosamine levels in smokeless tobacco are far higher than in food, according to a prepared statement.

Researchers fed rats a low dose of two forms of chemicals found in smokeless tobacco for 17 months. The doses were about equivalent to a person who used half a tin of smokeless tobacco every day for 30 years. (S)-NNN seemed to cause large numbers of oral and esophageal tumors in the rats, the study shows.

“There is a very specific oral carcinogen in smokeless tobacco and it is potent,” says researcher Silvia Balbo, PhD. She is a cancer researcher at the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

This compound is found in all smokeless tobacco products, including those that look like breath mints, strips, or candy, and “snus,” which are pouches filled with tobacco that are placed between the upper lip and gum. E-cigarettes or vapors do not contain tobacco and do not fall into this category.

Is Smokeless Tobacco the Lesser of Two Evils?

Traditional cigarettes also have this cancer-causing chemical, but the risk for oral cancer may be related to what smokeless tobacco products do when they sit in the mouth versus when they are burnt and inhaled.

Balbo says the next step is to understand how, or if, the study findings apply to humans.

Many people may view smokeless tobacco products as safe as or safer than cigarettes. “We see more and more advertising for these products and they are not as badly viewed as smoking, but they are not harmless,” she says.

“Is jay walking safer than jay walking blindfolded?” asks Nathan Cobb, MD. He is a research investigator at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation and a pulmonologist at Georgetown University, both in Washington D.C.

“You are not going to get lung cancer from them, but you will be at higher risk for other types of cancer,” he says.

We knew it was harmful, but we didn’t know exactly how until now, says Richard B. Hayes, PhD. He leads the division of epidemiology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

“This study identifies an agent in smokelesss tobacco that causes cancer in animal models,” he says. But this is not to say that it’s the only one. Hayes likens this to earlier hopes that adding filters to cigarette tips would lower smoking risks. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out.

“I would be concerned that people will think that taking this ingredient away would eliminate all risks and we do not know if that is true.”

Gilbert Ross, MD, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health in New York City, is an advocate of harm reduction and can see a use for smokeless tobacco, though. “Allowing smokers to get help in quitting their lethal addiction via safer nicotine delivery systems such as snus or e-cigarettes will reduce the huge toll of smoking,” he says.

Ninety-eight percent of tobacco-related disease is caused by smoking cigarettes, Ross says via email.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary, as they have not yet undergone the “peer review” process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Loss of Heterozygosity (LOH) Profiles—Validated Risk Predictors for Progression to Oral Cancer

Source: Cancer Prevention Research

Lewei Zhang4,5Catherine F. Poh1,2,4,5Michele Williams2,4Denise M. Laronde1,4Ken Berean5Pamela J. Gardner3Huijun Jiang1Lang Wu6J. Jack Lee8, and Miriam P. Rosin1

Authors’ Affiliations: 1Cancer Control Research Department, 2Oral Oncology Department, 3Fraser Valley Program in Oral Oncology/Dentistry, British Columbia Cancer Agency; 4Faculty of Dentistry and Departments of 5Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and 6Statistics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver; 7Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; and 8Department of Biostatistics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Corresponding Author: Miriam P. Rosin, Director, BC Oral Cancer Prevention Program, BC Cancer Agency, Department of Cancer Control Research, 675 West 10th Avenue, Rm 3-113, Vancouver V5Z 1L3, British Columbia, Canada. Phone: 604-675-8061; Fax: 604-675-8180; E-mail:


A major barrier to oral cancer prevention has been the lack of validated risk predictors for oral premalignant lesions (OPL). In 2000, we proposed a loss of heterozygosity (LOH) risk model in a retrospective study. This paper validated the previously reported LOH profiles as risk predictors and developed refined models via the largest longitudinal study to date of low-grade OPLs from a population-based patient group. Analysis involved a prospective cohort of 296 patients with primary mild/moderate oral dysplasia enrolled in the Oral Cancer Prediction Longitudinal Study. LOH status was determined in these OPLs. Patients were classified into high-risk or low-risk profiles to validate the 2000 model. Risk models were refined using recursive partitioning and Cox regression analyses. The prospective cohort validated that the high-risk lesions (3p and/or 9p LOH) had a 22.6-fold increase in risk (P = 0.002) compared with low-risk lesions (3p and 9p retention). Addition of another 2 markers (loci on 4q/17p) further improved the risk prediction, with five-year progression rates of 3.1%, 16.3%, and 63.1% for the low-, intermediate-, and high-risk lesions, respectively. Compared with the low-risk group, intermediate- and high-risk groups had 11.6-fold and 52.1-fold increase in risk (P < 0.001). LOH profiles as risk predictors in the refined model were validated in the retrospective cohort. Multicovariate analysis with clinical features showed LOH models to be the most significant predictors of progression. LOH profiles can reliably differentiate progression risk for OPLs. Potential uses include increasing surveillance for patients with elevated risk, improving target intervention for high-risk patients while sparing a large number of low-risk patients from needless screening and treatment. Cancer Prev Res; 5(9); 1–9. ©2012 AACR.

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Molecular markers help predict oral cancer progression


August 21, 2012 — A group of molecular markers has been identified that can help clinicians determine which patients with low-grade oral premalignant lesions are at high risk for progression to oral cancer, according to data from the Oral Cancer Prediction Longitudinal Study published in Cancer Prevention Research (August 21, 2012).

“The results of our study should help to build awareness that not everyone with a low-grade oral premalignant lesion will progress to cancer,” said Miriam Rosin, PhD, director of the Oral Cancer Prevention Program at the British Columbia (BC) Cancer Agency, in a press release issued by the American Association of Cancer Research, which publishes the journal. “However, they should also begin to give clinicians a better idea of which patients need closer follow-up.”

In 2000, Rosin and colleagues used samples of oral premalignant lesions in which progression to cancer was known to have subsequently occurred to develop a method for grouping patients into low- or high-risk categories based on differences in their DNA.

In their current population-based study, the researchers confirmed that this approach was able to correctly categorize patients as less or more likely to progress to cancer. They analyzed samples from 296 patients with mild or moderate oral dysplasia identified and followed over years by the BC Oral Biopsy Service, which receives biopsies from dentists and ear, nose, and throat surgeons across the province. Patients classified as high-risk had an almost 23-fold increased risk for progression.

Next, the researchers added two additional DNA molecular risk markers related to loss of heterozygosity to the analysis in an attempt to better differentiate patients’ risks. They used the disease samples from the prospective study and categorized patients into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups.

“Compared with the low-risk group, intermediate-risk patients had an 11-fold increased risk for progression and the high-risk group had a 52-fold increase in risk for progression,” Rosin said.

Of patients categorized as low-risk, only 3.1% had disease that progressed to cancer within five years. In contrast, intermediate-risk patients had a 16.3% five-year progression rate and high-risk patients had a 63.1% five-year progression rate.

“That means that two out of every three high-risk cases are progressing,” Rosin said. “Identifying which early lesions are more likely to progress may give clinicians a chance to intervene in high-risk cases and may help to prevent unnecessary treatment in low-risk cases.”

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Salivary glands project offers hope for head and neck cancer patients



Researchers have shown that salivary cells cultured outside the body can be coaxed into forming organized structures similar to those found in the body. These images show cells marked with fluorescent dyes that identify specific proteins found in salivary tissues. (DTI/Photo courtesy of Swati Pradhan-Bhatt/University of Delaware)

HOUSTON, Texas/NEWARK & WILMINGTON, Del., USA: Scientists in the U.S. have started a four-year program with the aim of regenerating artificial salivary glands from patients’ own cells. As few researchers have applied tissue-engineering strategies in the past, they hope that their current work will lead to new solutions for cancer patients suffering from dry mouth as a consequence of radiation therapy.

The researchers estimate that about 40,000 head and neck cancer patients undergo standard radiation as an early course of treatment each year, which often destroys the saliva-producing cells in their mouths. Consequently, patients have difficulty swallowing, eating and speaking owing to dry mouth, a serious condition that is also known to accelerate tooth decay and to induce oral infections.

“There is currently no way to prevent or cure xerostomia for cancer patients who are undergoing radiation therapy. This is clearly a problem where regenerative medicine holds great promise for improving the quality of life for many people,” said Dr. Robert Witt, a head and neck surgical oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.

For the project, the team developed a technique to harvest and grow salivary acinar cells, which are responsible for water and enzyme production, in the laboratory prior to radiation therapy. They also managed to implant them into test animals and maintain their functions, said Cindy Farach-Carson, professor of cell biology and the principal investigator of the study.

The scientists are currently aiming at regenerating whole salivary glands that can integrate into the host and increase saliva production. With this method, the doctors hope to culture a patient’s cells prior to radiation treatment in the future and then reimplant the salivary glands grown from these cells back into the patient’s mouth when radiation is completed.

In addition, the researchers think that the outcomes could benefit people with Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic disease in which a person’s immune system attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands. According to the researchers, up to 4 million Americans are living with Sjögren’s syndrome.

The project is being carried out in a collaborative study by biologists, surgical oncologists and regenerative medicine specialists from Rice University, the University of Delaware and the Christiana Care Health System. The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research granted $2.5 million for the research.

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Fewer teens having oral sex


Fewer teens aged 15 to 17 are having oral sex now than in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but the number remains high.

The report, based on data from The National Survey of Family Growth, found that more than a third of teens had engaged in oral sex by the time they turned 17. That number climbed to almost 50% by age 19, and more than 80% for 24-year-olds.

The study – based on computer surveys given to over 6,000 teens – also looked at the timing of first oral sex in relation to the timing of first vaginal intercourse. It found that the prevalence of having oral sex before vaginal intercourse was about the same as those having vaginal intercourse before oral sex.

“This new CDC analysis debunks many myths about when young people are initiating oral sex,” wrote Leslie Kantor, vice president for education at Planned Parenthood, a family planning advocacy group. “Although there has never been data to support it, there has been the perception that many teens engage in oral sex as a ‘risk-free’ alternative to intercourse. But the CDC analysis shows that sexually active young people are likely to engage in both activities,” she wrote.

How Americans view teen sex

But oral sex, like vaginal intercourse, is not risk-free. According to the CDC’s website, “numerous studies have demonstrated that oral sex can result in the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease,” not the least of which is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the disease known to cause both cervical and some throat cancers.

“It’s widely accepted that there is an increased number of head and neck cancers today due to changes in sexual practices in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” – specifically, an increase in oral sex, said Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

Regardless of whether teens have oral or vaginal sex first, Kantor says, it’s imperative they have the knowledge to make an educated decision about their sexual health.

“We need to make sure that young people have the skills to negotiate what they do and don’t want to do in sexual relationships, as well as education about and access to condoms and birth control so that they can protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy and remain healthy,” she wrote.

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

August, 2012|Oral Cancer News|