Monthly Archives: August 2013

Cancer survivors not seeking help for depression

Author: staff

Long-term treatment can affect how cancer survivors manage in the world. The fancy phrase for this is “psychosocial functioning.” A recent study looked at how head and neck cancer survivors get along after treatment.

Depression is not uncommon among head and neck cancer survivors, researchers found in this new study. However, not many of the survivors in the study sought help for their depression with either antidepressants or therapy.

Physicians could assist by screening for psychosocial problems because depression is very treatable, according to one expert.

Allen M. Chen, MD, of the University of California, Davis, and now of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, led this study. Dr. Chen and colleagues were looking at the rates of depression among head and neck cancer survivors who had received radiation therapy to treat the disease.

“The treatment of head and neck cancer can lead to devastating impact on psychosocial functioning due to the many important structures located in the head and neck region,” Tobenna Nwizu, MD, a solid tumor oncologist with the Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic, told dailyRx News.

“Functions like speech, swallowing, taste and salivation can all be affected,” said Dr. Nwizu, who was not involved in this study.

Treatment can also affect appearance, cause dry mouth and increase the risk of aspiration (sucking food into the airway), according to the authors.

For this study, the researchers asked 211 head and neck cancer survivors to complete a questionnaire. The University of Washington Quality of Life instrument was used to assess the rates of depression. Study members were all disease-free, and none had a history of mental health issues prior to their cancer diagnosis.

One year after treatment was completed, 17 percent of survivors reported being “somewhat depressed” or “extremely depressed.” Among three-year survivors, 15 percent said they felt depressed, as did 13 percent of those who were five years out from treatment. Of those who reported depression, 6 percent of one-year survivors, 11 percent of three-year survivors and 0 percent of five-year survivors reported taking antidepressants.

Very few survivors reported receiving psychotherapy and/or counseling. Only 3 percent of one-year survivors, 6 percent of three-year survivors and 0 percent of five-year survivors said they were getting help from mental health professionals for their depression.

“This study shows the need to screen for depression in patients treated for head and neck cancer, as depression can adversely affect a patient’s quality of life, and is easily treatable,” said Dr. Nwizu, who is a dailyRx Contributing Expert.

He added that economic factors, social support and other medical conditions, “which could all have an effect on a patient’s psychosocial well-being, were not accounted for in the study.”

The authors said a number of things may have influenced the survivors’ choices not to seek help for their depression, including lack of insurance, financial barriers, lack of follow-up care, not having a primary care physician and the perceived social stigma of mental illness.

1. This study was published August 15 in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

August, 2013|Oral Cancer News|

Walk/Run will raise money for oral cancer research

Published Aug 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm (Updated Aug 12, 2013)
Source: The Sparta Independent


ANDOVER — On Saturday, Sept. 21 , the sixth annual Oral Cancer Foundation Walk/Run for Awareness in Memory Of David Nasto will take place at Perona Farms in Andover.

The annual event is held in honor of a local, young man who lost his life to oral cancer seven years ago.

Susan Lauria, David’s sister, hosts the walk each year and is excited to announce the special features of the 2013 event.

Participants will have access to free oral cancer screenings by local dentists and oral surgeons as well as free blood pressure screenings. All participants will enjoy live music and raffles, as well as the complimentary breakfast and barbecue, facepainting for kids and more.

Stage IV Oral Cancer Survivor Michael White will speak about his battle with the disease and how he is thriving today. In person registration will begin at 8 am. The first 150 walkers/runners to arrive will receive free goody bags!

To date, hundreds of participants in David’s Memorial Walk have helped raise over $80,000 for the Oral Cancer Foundation, for awareness initiatives and to conduct life-saving research.

Fundraising efforts have started for 2013 and community members are encouraged to form teams or fundraise individually to aid in the fight against oral cancer. An iPad3 will be given to the person who raises the most donations over $2,000 on their personal fundraising page.

Any dental office team who raises the most donations can win an Identafi Screening Device, donated by Henry Schein Dental, valued at $3000.

To pre-register and start fundraising today, visit the events page of to create your own fundraising page. For questions, call Susan Lauria at 856-642-0483.

Approximately 42,000 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013, which includes mouth cancer, tongue cancer and throat cancer. When found early, there is an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. However, due to a lack of public awareness, the majority of cases are found as late-stage cancers that can be killers.

David Nasto was an avid surfer, snowboarder, cyclist, water skier and camper before he was diagnosed with stage IV tongue cancer after leaving a sore on his tongue go unchecked for months. David fought the disease with the same passion he exhibited every day of his life before diagnosis, but he tragically lost his fight on June 13, 2006.

The Memorial Walk is held each year in his memory to help the Oral Cancer Foundation raise awareness through its early detection programs and research.

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

UCLA Dentistry receives $5 million to study extracellular RNA in saliva


Research could yield new method for detecting stomach cancer and other diseases

By Brianna Deane 
Source: UCLA Newsroom
Date: August 13, 2013


Imagine having a sample of your saliva taken at the dentist’s office, and then learning within minutes whether your risk for stomach cancer is higher than normal. That futuristic-sounding scenario may actually not be too far from reality.

The UCLA School of Dentistry received $5 million in funding from the National Institutes for Health to study biological markers in saliva to attempt to develop a tool for detecting stomach cancer. The study has the potential to create a new paradigm in the field of salivary diagnostics, and it could supply concrete evidence that saliva can be used in the detection of life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and cancers of the pancreas, breasts, ovaries and stomach.

The award comes from the NIH Common Fund, a program established to overcome obstacles in biomedical research that have hindered scientific discovery and its translation into improved human health. The funding awarded to the School of Dentistry comes from the Common Fund’s Extracellular RNA Communication initiative, which has awarded leading research institutes around the world a total of $160 million to address the transformative potential of the emerging field of salivary diagnostics.

Leading UCLA’s five-year project is Dr. David Wong, a pioneer in the field of salivary diagnostics, the dentistry school’s associate dean of research, and the Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Professor in Dentistry. His team will develop and definitively validate salivary extracellular ribonucleic acid (exRNA) biomarkers for stomach cancer detection.

Conventionally, RNA — which translates genetic code from DNA to make protein — was always believed to reside within cells. However, scientists have recently found that RNA is secreted into extracellular spaces, or spaces outside the cell. Researchers surmised that exRNA acts as an exocrine signal, a signal that travels by way of a duct, to alter the cell traits of target cells. This messaging system occurs in the body’s central organs, such as the stomach and heart, and in the extremities, such as the fingers, toes and mouth.

With the Common Fund award, Wong’s team will conduct a prospective study to develop a salivary biomarker panel that would definitively validate for stomach cancer detection. Their hope is to capture exRNAs in saliva samples secreted by stomach cancer cells to confirm whether the patient is at risk for stomach cancer.

“Salivary diagnostics is a very dynamic field with a lot of potential and I am excited that our research is advancing toward clinical maturation,” Wong said. “The National Institutes for Health’s support for developing salivary exRNA biomarkers as part of the Common Fund initiative is a strong statement that saliva is scientifically credible for the detection of systemic disease.”

Wong’s laboratory, along with collaborators, first discovered salivary exRNA molecules in 2004 and demonstrated their translational utility for detecting oral cancer. Over the next several years, the team developed salivary exRNA biomarkers for a number of oral and systemic diseases, including salivary gland tumors, Sjögren’s syndrome and many life-threatening cancers. While there are other diagnostic constituents in saliva, salivary exRNAs are the most reliable markers for disease.

This NIH Common Fund initiative highlights the transformative potential of biological information revealed in exRNAs towards the regulation of health and diseases. Moreover, it echoes President Barrack Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation to address the so-called Grand Challenges of the 21st century. High on the list of those challenges is the goal of “early detection of dozens of disease from a saliva sample.”

“UCLA is uniquely poised to advance the basic, translational and clinical sciences of salivary diagnostics,” said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. “A new landscape of saliva biology is on the horizon.”

The research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sung Kim, executive vice president and director of gastric cancer at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Korea; Dr. David Chia, a professor in the department of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Dr. David Elashoff, a professor in the department of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; and Dr. Yong Kim, an associate professor in the division of oral biology and medicine at the UCLA School of Dentistry.


 * This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
August, 2013|Oral Cancer News|

Most youth who use smokeless tobacco are smokers, too

By Anne Harding
NEW YORK | Thu Aug 8, 2013 5:17pm EDT
SOURCE: Pediatrics, online August 5, 2013.


(Reuters Health) – Most young people in the U.S. who use newer smokeless tobacco products are smoking cigarettes too, according to new research.

“These findings are troubling, but not surprising, as tobacco companies spend huge sums to market smokeless tobacco in ways that entice kids to start and encourage dual use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco,” Vince Willmore, vice president of communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, told Reuters Health in an email.

“From 1998 to 2011, total marketing expenditures for smokeless tobacco increased by 210 percent – from $145.5 million to $451.7 million a year, according to the Federal Trade Commission,” he added.

Swedish-style “snus,” introduced to the U.S. in 2006, and dissolvable tobacco products, introduced in 2008, are arguably less harmful than conventional chewing tobacco because they contain fewer nitrosamines, and have been promoted as safer alternatives.

But public health experts have been concerned that these products could serve as a “gateway drug” to use of conventional smokeless tobacco and to cigarette smoking.

To better understand the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among young people, Dr. Gregory Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and his colleagues looked at data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which included nearly 19,000 sixth- to 12th-graders from across the country.

Overall, the researchers found, 5.6 percent of young people reported using any type of smokeless tobacco. Five percent used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip, just under two percent used snus and 0.3 percent used dissolvable products.

Among young people who were current smokeless tobacco users, about 72 percent reported smoking cigarettes too, while almost 81 percent of young people who used only snus or dissolvables were also smoking cigarettes.

Just 40 percent of smokeless tobacco users said they had plans to quit using tobacco, according to findings published in Pediatrics.

“We found higher current use than we expected. It’s just not experimentation, it looks like it’s taken hold among adolescents,” Connolly told Reuters Health.

“The most distressing finding was that this is not resulting in children or in young adolescents switching from smoking to these new products that may or may not be safer when used alone. They’re using both in very high numbers.”

Little information had been available on trends in the use of novel smokeless tobacco products, so studies like this one are important, Dr. Neal Benowitz, who has studied the health effects of smokeless tobacco at the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters Health.

“To me the fact that 72 percent of users concurrently smoke cigarettes is a serious issue,” he said. “These would be safer alternatives only if people used them exclusively, and as soon as you’re talking about dual use you virtually negate any reduction of harm.”

Benowitz, who was not involved in the current research, noted that studies have shown use of smokeless tobacco among U.S. youth can indeed be a gateway to cigarette smoking.

“The most disturbing finding is that a huge percentage of youth smokeless tobacco users also smoke cigarettes,” Willmore said.

“This indicates that smokeless tobacco compounds the problem of overall tobacco use in the United States, rather than helping to solve it as some tobacco companies claim.”

RJ Reynolds, which makes Camel Snus and dissolvable tobacco products including Camel Orbs, Sticks and Strips, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

“The tobacco industry is facing the 21st century with a whole new strategy, and that is to bring in new products that they claim to be safer,” Connolly told Reuters Health.

He pointed out that under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with regulating tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco.

“When we look at this data I think it is very disturbing to realize that the law has not kept them out, and at least in this data set they’re gaining traction among young people,” Connolly said.


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


August, 2013|Oral Cancer News|

R.J. Reynolds Not Expanding Distribution of Dissolvables

Source: CSP Daily News
Date: August 5, 2013







Camel Orbs, Sticks, Strips will remain available in current test markets


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is limiting the marketing of its trio of dissolvable tobacco products: Camel Orbs, Camel Sticks and Camel Strips, reported The Winston-Salem Journal. The company has been testing the products in five markets for more than four-and-a-half years.

Reynolds began testing the dissolvable products in early 2009. By comparison, it took only two-and-a-half years–from April 2006 to Oct. 2008–to take its Camel Snus products from test markets to national distribution.

Reynolds spokesperson Richard Smith said the products will remain in limited distribution in Charlotte, N.C., and Denver at point-of-sale (POS) sites.

“At this time there are no plans for any marketing beyond these channels,” Smith told the newspaper. “We’ve found in our conversations with adult tobacco consumers that while there’s strong interest in the category, a different product form may present a better option over the long term. Though for now, Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs will remain available while we continue to gather learnings.”

Reynolds has carved out an important and profitable niche as the industry’s leading manufacturer of innovative smokeless products, said the report.

The dissolvable products are made of finely milled tobacco and come in flavor styles of fresh and mellow. The products last from two to three minutes for the strips, 10 to 15 minutes for the orbs and 20 to 30 minutes for the sticks. They carry the same health warnings as other oral smokeless products.

The products were sold initially in Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis and Portland, Ore., before being shifted to Charlotte and Denver in March 2011. Although Reynolds does not dictate retail prices, the company said the dissolvable products should sell at a comparable price to a tin of Camel Snus, which is between $4 and $4.50.

The products have drawn criticism from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. They “are flavored and packaged like candy, and very likely will appeal to children,” said Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group.

Reynolds has sold the dissolvable products in child-resistant packaging, which may have proven to be a detriment to sales, according to analysts.

“The test markets weren’t good, and Reynolds made the products impossible to open without scissors,” Bill Godshall, executive director of Smoke Free Pennsylvania, told the paper.


*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
August, 2013|Oral Cancer News|

Enhanced Radiation Sensitivity in HPV-Positive Head and Neck Cancer

Source: American Association for Cancer Research 
Received February 28, 2013.
Revision received April 9, 2013.
Accepted April 26, 2013.


Patients with human papillomavirus (HPV+)–associated head and neck cancer (HNC) show significantly improved survival outcome compared with those with HPV-negative (HPV−) tumors. Published data examining this difference offers conflicting results to date. We systematically investigated the radiation sensitivity of all available validated HPV+ HNC cell lines and a series of HPV− HNC cell lines using in vitro and in vivo techniques. HPV+ HNCs exhibited greater intrinsic radiation sensitivity (average SF2 HPV−: 0.59 vs. HPV+: 0.22; P < 0.0001), corresponding with a prolonged G2–M cell-cycle arrest and increased apoptosis following radiation exposure (percent change 0% vs. 85%; P = 0.002). A genome-wide microarray was used to compare gene expression 24 hours following radiation between HPV+ and HPV− cell lines. Multiple genes in TP53 pathway were upregulated in HPV+ cells (Z score 4.90), including a 4.6-fold increase in TP53 (P < 0.0001). Using immortalized human tonsillar epithelial (HTE) cells, increased radiation sensitivity was seen in cell expressing HPV-16 E6 despite the effect of E6 to degrade p53. This suggested that low levels of normally functioning p53 in HPV+ HNC cells could be activated by radiation, leading to cell death. Consistent with this, more complete knockdown of TP53 by siRNA resulted in radiation resistance. These results provide clear evidence, and a supporting mechanism, for increased radiation sensitivity in HPV+ HNC relative to HPV− HNC. This issue is under active investigation in a series of clinical trials attempting to de-escalate radiation (and chemotherapy) in selected patients with HPV+ HNC in light of their favorable overall survival outcome. Cancer Res; 73(15); 4791–800. ©2013 AACR.


• Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online ( 

* This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
August, 2013|Oral Cancer News|