Yearly Archives: 2014

Ring in the New Year by encouraging patients to quit tobacco use

Author: Maria Perno Goldie

The New Year always brings a sense of hope and conviction to improve our lives. New Year’s resolutions abound. With the New Year come new beginnings, fresh starts, and promises for a brighter future. We try to move on from the losses and trials of 2014, but we never forget. The people we’ve lost will be in our hearts forever, and the trials can be viewed as life lessons and opportunities.

As World Oral Health Day (WOHD) 2015 approaches, FDI World Dental Federation wants people to make a healthy New Year’s resolution and reduce their use of tobacco – or give it up completely – as part of the 2015 World Oral Health Day Smile for Life campaign.(1) Tobacco use can significantly increase the risk of many serious oral health problems, including oral cancer, periodontal disease, early tooth loss, tooth discoloration, oral malodor, and a reduced ability to taste and smell.

Dental and dental hygiene office visits can create an opportunities to help patients quit smoking and using tobacco, yet dental settings are often not used for treatment of tobacco dependence. The purpose of one study was to evaluate issues that may influence patterns of tobacco-use-related practice among a national sample of dental providers.(2) Researchers surveyed a representative sample of general dentists practicing in the U.S. More than 90% of dental providers reported that they regularly ask patients about tobacco use, 76% counsel patients, and 45% routinely offer cessation assistance. This was defined as referring patients for cessation counseling, providing a cessation prescription, or both. Results showed that cessation assistance was associated with having a practice with one or more dental hygienists, having a chart system that includes a tobacco use question, having received training on treating tobacco dependence, and having positive attitudes toward treating tobacco use.

Providers who did not offer assistance but reported they would change their practice patterns if they were sufficiently reimbursed were likely to be in a group practice, treat patients insured through Medicaid, and have positive attitudes toward treating tobacco dependence. The results indicated the benefit of increasing training opportunities and promoting changes to increase the involvement of dental providers in conducting tobacco use treatment. Reimbursement models should be tested to assess the effect on dental provider practice patterns.

The ADA issued a letter on “modified risk” tobacco products.(3) In a letter signed by the president and executive director, the ADA expressed to the FDA that “it is ‘virtually impossible’ to justify claims that smokeless tobacco and such newer generation products as electronic cigarettes and hookah tobacco ‘are somehow less harmful to the oral cavity than combustible tobacco products or without other adverse effects.’” The ADA strongly supports developing the published research on the latest generation of tobacco products and the short- and long-term effects of these products on oral health.

Last, but not last, there is a new report on smokeless tobacco. (4) Smokeless tobacco (ST) products present a multifaceted and extensive challenge to public health that has not been adequately addressed by researchers and policymakers. International tobacco control efforts have largely focused on cigarettes, and dedicated only limited attention to other types of products, including smokeless tobacco. This report addresses these issues.

2. Jannat-Khah DP, McNeely J, Pereyra MR, et al. Dentists’ Self-Perceived Role in Offering Tobacco Cessation Services: Results From a Nationally Representative Survey, United States, 2010–2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2014; 11:140186.
3. ADA News. December 5, 2014.
4. National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. NIH Publication No. 14-7983; 2014.

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

5 Best apps to quit smoking

Author: Josh Smith

You want to quit smoking, but it isn’t easy to do. You can leverage community support, motivation and proven techniques on your iPhone, Android and Windows Phone with the best apps to quit smoking, and motivational on demand help when you have a craving.

Most of these quit smoking apps will help you work through the cravings and calculate the money and health benefits of quitting smoking with calculators and a quite smoking timeline that can help you visualize the benefits of quitting smoking.

Whether you are quitting smoking as a New Year’s Resolution or you finally decided to take a stand, you can use these apps to quit smoking faster and with more help than going cold turkey with no support.


Use these apps to quit smoking in 2015.

According to the CDC, you will notice the benefits in as little as 20 minutes and carbon monoxide level in your blood drop to normal in just 12 hours. In as little s two weeks your heart attack risk drops and in one to nine months your coughing and shortness of breath decreases. There are many other benefit to quitting smoking in the years following.

The 2014 CDC Surgeon General’s report found one in three cancer deaths could be prevented if people quit smoking, and it isn’t only lung or oral cancer that smoking increases the risk for.

With the help of the best quit smoking apps on the market, you can turn your iPhone, Android or Windows phone into a powerful coach that can help you quit smoking faster than going on your own.

Best Apps to Quit Smoking in 2015

Use your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or even flip phone to stop smoking in 2015.

Use your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or even flip phone to stop smoking in 2015.

These quit smoking apps will help you track the money you save, show you the health benefits for your current amount of time since you quit smoking and offer support and help when you have a craving. We’ll also share a simple service that works with text messages, allowing anyone with any phone to get support, even if it is a flip phone.

Here are the top five apps to quit smoking and a Smoke Free text service that works on any phone.

Livestrong MyQuit Coach – Dare to Quite Smoking

Use the Livestrong app to quit smoking with support on your iPhone.

Use the Livestrong app to quit smoking with support on your iPhone.

The Livestrong MyQuit Coach is a physician approved quit smoking app that helps you set achievable goals based on where you are now — whether that is current smoker or recent quitter. You can quit smoking cold turkey or gradually reduce your smoking each day until you can stop completely and the iPhone app will help you do this. Check out the features of this app to quit smoking below;

  • Personalized quitting plan
  • Upload your own personalized motivations
  • Track your daily consumption and allowance
  • Optional budget alerts and reminders
  • Earn badges and awards
  • View charts of your usage history by date and time
  • Your plan will automatically adjust if Quitting tips, facts, and motivation from LIVESTRONG.COM

You can also get support from Twitter, Facebook and the LiveStrong community and the app will adjust as you progress towards your goal to quit smoking.

Quit Pro: Stop Smoking Now

Quit Pro is another stop smoking app for iPhone.

Quit Pro is another stop smoking app for iPhone.

The Quit Pro: Stop Smoking Now iPhone app helps you track when and where you smoke so you can identify triggers that include where you smoke and why you smoke. This includes moods and situations that lead to smoking so that you can do your best to avoid the things that could push you over to smoking while you are trying to stop.

You can also use this app to track how long you stopped smoking for, how much money you’ve saved and the benefits to your health. There are also motivational quotes to help you stay on target.

Quit Smoking – QuitNow for Android

Quit Smoking for Android is another top option.

Quit Smoking for Android is another top option.

For Android phones, the Quit Smoking app QuitNow is the best option we could find. This app includes a comprehensive set of tools that will help you stop smoking and are always available on your Android smartphone.

You’ll see the real-time stats on how long since your last cigarette, down to the minute. You can also see how many cigarettes you didn’t smoke and the money and time you saved by quitting.

The app shows you achievements based on the World Health Organization findings on health improvements after you quit smoking. The app tracks your progress and shows you the health benefits to motivate you to keep going.

You can use the app to chat with other people trying to quit smoking and to share your progress. There are tips & tricks to stop smoking and other help. There is also a widget on your home screen to track your progress.

Quit Smoking Windows Phone App

This quit smoking app for Windows Phone includes Live Tile support.

This quit smoking app for Windows Phone includes Live Tile support.

There is a powerful Windows Phone app to quit smoking. This free app delivers encouragement to resist cravings and tracks your progress to help you stay on track with money saved and the health benefits of quitting. Here are the main features of this app;

  • Record the amount of time that you’ve been smoke free
  • Record how much money you’ve saved
  • Record the number of cigarettes avoided
  • Record the number of cravings resisted
  • Pinnable craving timer
  • See what health benefits you should have experienced
  • View a timeline of expected health benefits

The app also includes Live Tile support, showing you key information about your progress to quit smoking that updates every 30 minutes.

Stop Smoking Text Support

SmokefreeTXT is a free service to help you quit smoking with text message support. if you don’t want to use an app or you are using a flip phone during the day and an iPad or Android tablet to help you quit smoking during the evening this is a good option.

In addition to the standard help, you can send three keywords to 47848 to get immediate help, 24/7.

  • CRAVE – An immediate reminder why you shouldn’t give in to this craving.
  • MOOD – Get a positive message to boost a bad day.
  • SLIP – Just because you slipped doesn’t mean you should stop trying, get motivated.
December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Oral cancer on rise in young people

Author: Jaclyn Kelley

Alex Dupuy is like most 15-year-old boys, except for one very special talent. Last year he stole the headlines during a bowling tournament for bowling a perfect 300. But that high wouldn’t last long.

“My son came to us one day and said I have an ulcer, and we thought, OK, let’s gargle with some salt water and we kept checking on it and it never went away,” said Nancy Dupuy, Alex’s mother.

When the sore on Alex’s tongue never cleared up, but instead started growing, his mother became concerned and took him to see the doctor.

“It has grown so rapidly that I would really like to have the tumor or whatever it was removed,” she said.

Alex was taken to Children’s Hospital for surgery, and doctors removed the sore and 30 percent of his tongue. Three days later test results came back confirming the Dupuy’s worst fears: It was cancer.

“The word aggressive stuck out to me,” Nancy Dupuy said. “The type of cancer that my son presented with was an adult cancer. It’s not usually diagnosed in young children.”

The doctors said Alex had a rapid form of squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. Four days later he and his parents were on a plane to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Through it all, Alex managed to stay positive.

“I felt nervous, I felt scared and I told myself, I’ll be alright,” Alex said.

In Houston Alex would have yet another surgery before starting six weeks of intense radiation.

“We would wrap his neck because the neck would be burned. The skin, the tissue was burned when it would start to break down,” Nancy Dupuy said.

Dr. Paul Friedlander, the chairman for Tulane’s ear, nose and throat department, said the number of young people with oral cancer is on the rise.

“Most of the cancers we saw were smoking, alcohol related,” Friedlander said. “Right now we’ve seen an increase in a number of people who have not been exposed to cigarettes and alcohol that have these cancers.”

And he said that’s because of the human papaloma virus, or HPV. It’s an orally transmitted virus that he says is easy to get.

“These can be transmitted through oral sexual contact or something as innocuous as an open-mouth kiss,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander said early detection is key.

“If one does have a sore on their mouth, difficulty with swallowing, hoarseness or a neck mass that persists after two or three weeks, it’s a good idea to see your local doctor,” he said.

He recommends parents consider getting their teens the HPV vaccination, which doctors say can help prevent oral cancer.

It’s something Nancy Dupuy did with Alex and his brothers after his diagnosis.

“In our case it wasn’t HPV, but just the thought of oral cancer and that there is maybe something that could have prevented it is just really worth it in the end,” she said.

Several weeks of radiation would take its toll on Alex, but his family says it’s bowling that got him through it.

“On the good days, Alex would bowl and Alex would be in a world that was just perfect, and to me that was the most important thing that helped him get through six weeks of radiation,” Nancy Dupuy said.

Thank to early detection, Alex is now in remission.

“I always thank God I am cancer free.”

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Antacids linked to better survival in patients with head and neck cancer

Author: Kathy Boltz, PhD

Patients with head and neck cancer who used antacid medicines to control acid reflux had better overall survival, according to a new study.

Reflux can be a common side effect of chemotherapy or radiation treatment for head and neck cancer. Doctors at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor frequently prescribe two types of antacids, proton pump inhibitors or histamine 2 blockers, to help treat this side effect.

The researchers reviewed 596 cases of head and neck cancer. More than two-thirds of the patients took one or both types of antacid medication after their diagnosis.

Patients who were taking antacids had significantly better overall survival than those who did not take them. Proton pump inhibitors, including drugs such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, had the biggest effect: a 45% decreased risk of death compared with patients who did not take antacids. Patients taking histamine 2 blockers, such as Tagamet, Zantac, or Pepcid, saw a 33% decreased risk of death.

“We had suspicions that these medications somehow had a favorable impact on patient outcomes. This led us to review our large cohort of patients and screen them for common medications, focusing on antacids. In fact, our study did show that people taking antacids are doing better,” said lead study author Silvana Papagerakis, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School and an adjunct clinical assistant professor at the U-M School of Dentistry.

Results of the study were published in Cancer Prevention Research (2014; doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0002).

The researchers are not clear why these medications affect the cancer, although they have begun additional work to understand the mechanisms involved.

“Currently, patients might be on and off of this medication according to their symptoms of acid reflux. We believe this medication can also be beneficial at stopping cancer progression. Perhaps longer duration of treatments may have significant effect in terms of outcome survival,” Papagerakis said.

In addition, the researchers would like to understand if using antacids in people with reflux disease or people with precancerous lesions might reduce their risk of developing head and neck cancer.

Antacids are seen as relatively safe and typically have little or no adverse side effects. More importantly, Papagerakis noted, patients with head and neck cancer are already taking these medications.

“What this study makes clear is these medications may be more beneficial to the patients than just controlling side effects,” she said.

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Boy Scout Troop Hiking to Raise Awareness of Oral Cancer in Honor of their Former Scoutmaster

Author: Staff

AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) — South Carolina is second in the nation for the number of people who die from oral cancer every year. That statistic hits too close to home for one local Boy Scout troop who is now taking on the fight against the cancer.

For five days, Boy Scout Troop 50 will be hiking through the Francis Marion National Forest from Awendaw to Moncks Corner.

“Last summer our former Scoutmaster was diagnosed with tongue and throat cancer and he had to step down,” said Larry Elkin, who is volunteering to help lead the hike.

Elkin says the boys have been preparing the 53 mile voyage for months. Their goal is to raise $5,000 to donate to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

“Mr. Hardy loved his troop and he loved to hike, so what way better way to honor and bring awareness than through something he loved,” said Elkin.

“If it’s one thing Mr. Hardy taught me is that if you are not going to do something right then don’t do it at all,” said Reid Kaplan, a 17-year-old who was under Hardy’s leadership when he was in the sixth grade.

It’s memories and lessons learned from Hardy that Kaplan says will keep him going when he gets tired.

“I remember going camping with him, and no matter how tired or worn out he was he never gave up he never complained, so when I’m drained I’ll be thinking about that,” said Kaplan.

Cole Shuber is another teenager who’s learned lots of life lessons from Hardy, and now he wants to give back to a man who has given so much to him.

“With everything going on, he really isn’t in a position to hike which is something he loved, so I want him to know I’m doing this — we are doing this — for him,” said Shuber.

Troop 50 is doing three 12-mile hikes and finishing off the last two days each with an 8-mile hike.

So far they’ve raised nearly $3,600. To help the Troop 50 reach their goal, click here.

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

Levels of cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco products influence carcinogen exposure

Author: staff

Higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals called tobacco-specific nitrosamines in smokeless tobacco products led to greater exposure to these carcinogens even after taking into account how much or how long the product was used, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Our results show that although the pattern of tobacco use—for example, amount of dip and number of dips—can influence the level of smokeless tobacco users’ exposure to tobacco-specific nitrosamines, the actual amount of these chemicals in the products also makes a significant difference,” said Dorothy K. Hatsukami, PhD, the Forster Family professor in cancer prevention in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“The majority of smokeless tobacco users in the United States are not aware of the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their smokeless tobacco products or of the tremendous variability in the levels of these chemicals across brands sold in this country,” continued Hatsukami. “At a minimum, the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] should provide smokeless tobacco consumers information about the different levels of cancer-causing chemicals in different brands of smokeless tobacco and, ideally, require levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines be substantially reduced, if not eliminated, in all products. Levels of these chemicals in smokeless tobacco products could be readily reduced by changing manufacturing practices.”

Levels of exposure to tobacco-specific nitrosamines are associated with disease risk, according to Hatsukami. Prior studies have shown that smokeless tobacco users in the United States experience about two to three times greater risks for oral cancer compared with those who do not use these products, she said. Pancreatic cancer has also been linked to smokeless tobacco use.

“Now that the FDA has the authority to establish product standards—that is, mandate the reduction of harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products—there has been greater interest in understanding how levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in products relate to exposure,” said Hatsukami.

To study this, Hatsukami; Stephen Hecht, PhD, the Wallin professor of cancer prevention in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota; and their colleagues analyzed data from 391 adults from Minneapolis/St. Paul; Eugene, Oregon; and Morgantown, West Virginia, who used smokeless tobacco products daily. The smokeless tobacco brands used by different participants varied in nicotine and tobacco-specific nitrosamine content. Participants could not be current users of other tobacco or nicotine products.

At two assessment sessions, approximately one week apart, demographic information, smokeless tobacco-use history, and urine samples were collected from participants. Urine samples were analyzed for biomarkers of exposure to nicotine and the tobacco-specific nitrosamines N’-nitrosonornictoine (NNN) and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK).

Analysis showed that levels of biomarkers of NNN and NNK in users’ urine samples were independently positively correlated with the number of years of daily smokeless tobacco use, number of tins of smokeless tobacco used each week, mean daily dip duration, and levels of NNN and NNK in the smokeless tobacco products used. For every one unit (µg/g wet weight) increase of NNK and NNN in the smokeless tobacco product used, the estimated increase of the corresponding biomarkers was 32 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute. Hatsukami declares no conflicts of interest. Hecht served as an expert witness in a smokeless tobacco trial 10 years ago.

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

FDA Approves Vaccine That Covers More HPV Strains

Author: E J Mundell, HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last Wednesday approved a new vaccine with expanded protection against the human papillomavirus (HPV), by far the leading cause of cervical and certain other cancers.

The agency said that Gardasil 9 can shield users against nine strains of the virus, compared to the four strains covered by Gardasil, the Merck & Co. vaccine approved in 2006. Merck also makes Gardasil 9.

“Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers,” the FDA said in an agency news release.

“Vaccination is a critical public health measure for lowering the risk of most cervical, genital and anal cancers caused by HPV,” Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the release. “The approval of Gardasil 9 provides broader protection against HPV-related cancers.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls at age 11 or 12, so they are protected before being exposed to the sexually transmitted virus. One other HPV vaccine, Cervarix, was also approved by the FDA in 2009. Cervarix is made by GlaxoSmithKline and protects against two HPV strains strongly linked to cancer, HPV 16 and 18.

According to the FDA, the approval of Gardasil 9 was based on a clinical trial involving more than 14,000 girls and women aged 16 to 26 who were not infected with HPV at the start of the trial. Participants were given either Gardasil or Gardasil 9.

“Gardasil 9 was determined to be 97 percent effective in preventing cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers caused by the five additional HPV types [31, 33, 45, 52, and 58],” the FDA said. “In addition, Gardasil 9 is as effective as Gardasil for the prevention of diseases caused by the four shared HPV types (6, 11, 16 and 18).”

For younger people — boys and girls aged 9 through 15 — Garadsil 9 was determined to be effective from measurements of immune-system antibody responses to the vaccine, the FDA explained. “Based on these results, the vaccine is expected to have similar effectiveness when used in this younger age group,” the agency said.

In terms of safety, the FDA said that the most common adverse effects were injection site pain, swelling, redness and headaches.

Like Gardasil, Gardasil 9 is administered as three separate shots, with the second and third doses given two and six months after the first one, respectively.

This year, about 12,360 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed, and about 4,020 women will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Doctors Trying To Remind Americans That The HPV Vaccine Isn’t All About Sex

Author: Tara Culp-Ressler


Dr. Ronald A. DePinho is on a mission.

DePinho, who’s been a cancer researcher for decades and currently serves as the president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, wants to reframe the national conversation about the HPV vaccine to drive home a fundamental point.

“It’s important to appreciate that this is a cancer vaccine. A cancer vaccine!” DePinho said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It’s a dream come true that we’ve converted knowledge into something that can actually save lives and avoid getting cancer in the first place. It’s really what we have been hoping for, and now we have it.”
Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2006, the rate of human papillomavirus in teenage girls has plummeted. And the research in this field continues to advance. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved an updated version of the Gardasil vaccine that protects against nine strains of the cancer-causing virus — more than twice as many as the 2006 version, which covered just four strains.

According to DePinho, that’s a really significant advance for cancer care. He doesn’t want it to get lost in the ongoing controversy about HPV vaccination, a round of shots that some parents still worry is unsafe or inappropriate for their kids.
There’s a persistent myth, for instance, that giving teen girls the shots will spur them to become more “promiscuous” because they know they’ll be protected from a sexually transmitted infection. Large scientific studies have debunked the notion that there’s any link between the HPV vaccine and sexual activity, but inoculation rates still lag behind in some of the Southern states that are wary to provide teens with preventative tools to protect their sexual health.
In general, HPV vaccination rates in the U.S. are still much too low, hovering around 30 percent. Public health professionals are aiming to increase those rates dramatically, to at least 80 percent — closer to the percentage of people who get vaccinated against the virus in other developed countries.

To accomplish that, the health professionals who have dedicated their lives to treating HPV-related cancers want to move the conversation away from sexuality altogether. Instead of framing Gardasil as vaccine that protects against an STD — which might give some Americans the impression that they don’t need to worry about it — they want to present it as a vaccine that protects against cancer.

“It doesn’t seem like it makes sense to see it in terms of a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease necessarily,” Dr. Erich Sturgis, an expert in head and throat cancer who works as the program director for the MD Anderson Oropharynx Program, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “Most of us will have an HPV infection at some point in our lifetime and we’ll never know it.”
Nearly all sexually active Americans get HPV at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 80 percent of people are infected at some point, and most never realize it because the infection resolves itself on its own. But certain strains of the virus go on to cause cervical, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers.

Without the HPV vaccine, men in particular are put at risk of developing neck and throat cancers. Unlike cervical cancers, which can be detected with regular Pap smears, there’s no way to screen men.


Sturgis treats mostly middle aged male patients, and he estimated that about 60 percent of the cancers he deals with are caused by HPV. He said it’s important to increase the rates of vaccination among both girls and boys because it will be another 30 to 40 years before today’s kids hit the point when these type of throat cancers may start displaying themselves.
“To let your kids potentially suffer later in life is just a tragedy. That’s really the message here,” he said.

Both cancer doctors are optimistic that once more parents are educated about what’s at stake, they’ll start vaccinating their kids at higher rates. There’s a big information gap — one recent study found that 70 percent of U.S. adults didn’t realize the HPV vaccine has any connection to cancer whatsoever — that they believe can be corrected with more investment from primary care doctors who are on the front lines of recommending the shots.

“It’s really about empowering parents and health care professionals, and making them recognize that this is a childcare responsibility and a priority for all of us,” DePinho said. “It begins with interviews like this and just having the media getting this information out there.”

“Doctors are probably not as good at messaging to the public as we could be. We need some help,” Sturgis agreed.


*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Revolutionary new approach uses advanced technology to remove head and neck cancer tumors

Author: staff

In a groundbreaking new study, UCLA researchers have for the first time advanced a surgical technique performed with the help of a robot to successfully access a previously-unreachable area of the head and neck.

This pioneering method can now be used safely and efficiently in patients to remove tumors that many times were previously thought to be inoperable, or necessitated the use of highly-invasive surgical techniques in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Developed by Dr. Abie Mendelsohn, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member and director of head and neck robotic surgery at UCLA, this new approach provides the surgical community with a leading-edge technology roadmap to treat patients who had little or no hope of living cancer-free lives.

“This is a revolutionary new approach that uses highly advanced technology to reach the deepest areas of the head and neck,” said Mendelsohn, lead author of the study. “Patients can now be treated in a manner equivalent to that of a straightforward dental procedure and go back to leading normal, healthy lives in a matter of days with few or even no side effects.”

A New Approach to Saving Lives
The parapharyngeal space is pyramid-shaped area that lies near the base of the human skull and connects several deep compartments of the head and neck. It is lined with many large blood vessels, nerves and complex facial muscles, making access to the space via traditional surgical options often impossible or highly invasive.

Current surgical techniques can necessitate external incisions be made to the patient’s neck, or the splitting of their jaw bone or areas close to the voice box. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also often required, further complicating recovery and potentially putting patients at risk for serious (or even lethal) side effects.

Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2009, Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (or TORS) utilizes the Da Vinci robotic surgical system, the state-of-the-art technology that was developed at UCLA by the specialized surgical program for the head and neck. TORS uses a minimally invasive procedure in which a surgical robot, under the full control of a specially trained physician, operates with a three-dimensional, high-definition video camera and robotic arms.

These miniature “arms” can navigate through the small, tight and delicate areas of the mouth without the need for external incisions. A retraction system allows the surgeon to see the entire surgical area at once. While working from an operating console just steps away from the patient’s bed, every movement of the surgeon’s wrists and fingers are transformed into movement of the surgical instruments.

Currently, Mendelsohn’s new procedure largely benefits patients with tumors located in the throat near the tonsils and tongue, but it continues to be adapted and expanded in scope and impact.

“We are tremendously excited about the possibilities for the surgical community with this new advancement of TORS,” said Mendelsohn. “Now patients have options they never had before, and we can even develop potential applications for the procedure beyond the surface of the head and neck.”

The study was published online ahead of print in the journal Head & Neck

David Alpern: One Patient’s Story
In 2012, David Alpern received devastating news. He was diagnosed with throat cancer, and the treatment options given to him by his doctors sound worse than the disease.

“They described a procedure where your face is split in half and it’s basically reconstructive surgery. I was completely freaked out,” said Alpern, a husband and father of two.

After careful examination and imaging by Dr. Abie Mendelsohn at UCLA, the doctor determined David was a perfect candidate for TORS. The husband and father of two was soon up and about in a matter of days following the procedure. Like the over 100 similar TORS surgeries performed with Dr. Mendelsohn at the controls, David’s tumor was removed and he’s now completely cancer free.

“I try not to get too cocky or excited that I beat cancer, but I think I did,” said David. “There are no side effects at this point. My hopes are just to watch my kids grow up and enjoy my family and my life.”

Source: UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Government anti-smoking campaign cost just $480 per quitter, study finds

Author: Lenny Bernstein

At $48 million, the first government mass media campaign to convince cigarette smokers to quit would seem a pricey luxury, especially since that sum purchased just three months of television ads from March through June of 2o12. But a new study of its cost effectiveness, released Wednesday, determined that it cost just $480 for each smoker who quit and $393 per year of life saved.

The graphic videos featured pleas from former smokers who had suffered amputated limbs, oral and throat cancer, paralysis, lung damage, strokes, and heart attacks. One of the most haunting showed Terrie Hall, a 52-year-old North Carolina woman whose larynx was removed after she was diagnosed with throat cancer. In the ad, she spoke with the help of an artificial voice box. Hall later died.

The campaign and the analysis were both conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Saul Shiffman, a University of Pittsburgh psychology professor who has spent decades studying smoking habits, said there is no doubt it was a tremendous bargain for the public and, especially, the smokers who quit or added years to their lives. One standard used in studying such interventions considers them cost effective at $50,000 per year of life gained–more than 100 times the cost of the campaigns.

Medical interventions, such as heart and lung surgery commonly needed by long-term smokers are much more expensive than that, Shiffman noted. The money spent on the campaign “would pale next to the money we spend for medical treatment for smokers who otherwise are going to have a heart attack and lung cancer,” he said.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said the campaign is “an example of an investment that saves lives and money. Most smokers want to quit. Tips show that people can, and can save literally tens of thousands of lives, and has done so at a cost vastly lower than the cost of most other health interventions.”

Shiffman and Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, noted that the tobacco industry spends about $8 billion annually to promote its products. Funding for the campaign, which continued in subsequent years, comes from the Affordable Care Act.

A previous study of the effort determined that more than 100,000 people gave up smoking for six months or more, considered permanent abstinence for the purposes of the research. Another 100,000 quit for shorter periods of time and 1.6 million tried to quit after seeing the ads.

The data was derived by surveying a group of several thousand smokers before and after the ad campaign, McAfee said. About 89 percent said they had seen the ads.

The shocking nature of the campaign was designed to reach smokers, who already know that the habit is likely to sicken and kill them. They told researchers “we don’t want to die early , but we’ve kind of absorbed that message. We don’t want to suffer and we don’t want our families to suffer,” McAfee said.

“What they told us [was you] need to show us in a way that we can understand or believe what the consequences of us continuing to smoke are,” he said. A positive message was included at the end of the ads to highlight the fact that even smokers who quit late in life improve their health and gain quality of life, he said.

Despite declines in smoking rates, about 42 million people in the United States, 18 percent of the population, still smoke. The habit remains the single most preventable cause of death and disease in this country, the study noted.

December, 2014|Oral Cancer News|