Monthly Archives: January 2014

Study: Oropharyngeal cancer on the rise in young adults

Author: staff

A new study reveals an alarming increase in oropharyngeal cancers among young adults. While the exact cause for this phenomenon is unknown, the human papillomavirus (HPV) may be to blame.

According to researchers from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit there was an overall 60 percent increase from 1973 and 2009 in cancers of the base of tongue, tonsils, soft palate and pharynx in people younger than age 45. Among Caucasians, there was a 113 percent increase, while among African-Americans the rate of these cancers declined by 52 percent during that period of time. But compared to Caucasians and other races, the five-year survival rate remains worse for African Americans.

The study is published online ahead of print in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

“The growing incidence in oropharyngeal cancer has been largely attributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which led to an increased transmission of high-risk HPV,” says study lead author Farzan Siddiqui, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Head & Neck Radiation Therapy Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

“We were interested in looking at people born during that time period and incidence of oropharyngeal cancer. Not only were we surprised to find a substantial increase in young adults with cancer of the tonsils and base of tongue, but also a wide deviation among Caucasians and African Americans with this cancer.”

The American Cancer Society estimates about 36,000 people in the U.S. will get oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in 2013; an estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers. Oropharyngeal cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women, and about equally common in African Americans and Caucasians.

Recent medical research has shown that HPV exposure and infection increases the risk of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer independently of tobacco and alcohol use, two other important risk factors for the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. The incidence of oropharyngeal cancer has been growing in recent years due to increasing rates of HPV infection. This has been largely attributed to changes in sexual practices. Studies have shown, however, patients with HPV related head and neck cancer do have a better prognosis and survival.

For the Henry Ford study, Dr. Siddiqui and his colleagues used the SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) database to gather information about adults younger than age 45 who had been diagnosed with invasive squamous cell oropharyngeal cancer between1973 and 2009. Since SEER does not record HPV information, the researchers used tumor grade as a surrogate indicator of HPV infection.

Among the study group of more than 1,600 patients, 90 percent were ages 36-44 and the majority (73 percent) was Caucasian. During the 36-year period, the majority of patients (50-65 percent) underwent surgical resection for their tumors. Patients who had both surgery and radiation therapy had the highest five-year survival rate.

“These patients have a favorable prognosis and are likely to live longer while dealing with treatment related side-effects that may impact their quality of life,” notes Dr. Siddiqui.

The five-year survival for the study group was 54 percent. There was no difference in survival based on gender. African Americans, however, had significantly poor survival compared to other races.

“The predominance of oropharyngeal cancer in this age group suggests either non-sexual modes of HPV transfer at a younger age or a shortened latency period between infection and development of cancer,” says Dr. Siddiqui.

Source: Henry Ford Health System

January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

New oral cancer saliva test could reduce false-positive results

Author: staff

Researchers at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry have discovered a new saliva test for oral cancer that could reduce false-positive results. As new oral cancer diagnoses rose to more than 41,000 in 2013, the demand for early detection continues to increase.

Yi-Shing Lisa Cheng, DDS, PhD, an associate professor in diagnostic sciences at Baylor College, has been working to develop a saliva test as an oral cancer screening tool, according to an A&M announcement. In 2009, she received a $381,000 R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to find reliable oral cancer salivary biomarkers, which can be used as indicators of disease or other health conditions.

Dr. Cheng recently received a $50,000 faculty bridge grant from Texas A&M Health Science Center and A&M Baylor College of Dentistry’s diagnostic sciences department to continue this research. The goal is to determine whether patients with oral lichen planus and periodontal disease exhibit false positives for the future oral cancer saliva tests.

Dr. Cheng noted that early detection of cancer is always good and using a saliva test is a noninvasive and relatively easy procedure. Her research differs from models that compare salivary biomarkers of oral cancer patients with those of completely healthy individuals. Instead, Dr. Cheng looked at the biomarkers of patients with noncancerous oral conditions.

It’s an effort that could save patients thousands of dollars, not to mention the stress and health complications associated with false-positive results. Dr. Cheng’s Baylor team and researchers from the University of Toledo in Ohio have identified some promising candidate salivary biomarkers, but more testing is needed to validate initial results.

Saliva samples are being collected from the following groups:

  • Patients with oral cancer
  • Patients with periodontal disease who are smokers and nonsmokers
  • Patients with active and inactive oral lichen planus
  • Healthy, nonsmoking patients who have none of these diseases
January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Cigarettes, More Addictive than Ever Before

Source: The New York Times
Published: January 23, 2014
By: The Editorial Board

It was a shock to learn from the latest surgeon general’s report that, because of changes in the design and composition of cigarettes, smokers today face a higher risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than smokers in 1964, despite smoking fewer cigarettes. It is equally shocking to learn now that some of today’s cigarettes may be more addictive than those smoked in past years, most likely because the manufacturers are designing them to deliver more nicotine to the lungs to induce and sustain addiction. That devious tactic requires a strong response by regulators.

A report published last week in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that while the nicotine content of cigarettes has remained relatively stable for more than a decade, the amount of that nicotine delivered to the machines researchers use as surrogates for smokers has been rising. The researchers, from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, analyzed data from four manufacturers as required by state law. The findings varied among the companies and brands, but the overall trend led the researchers to conclude that changes in cigarette design have increased the efficiency of delivering nicotine to a smoker’s lungs. Young people who experiment with smoking may thus become addicted more easily and existing smokers may find it harder to quit.

Those provocative findings will need to be verified by other experts but are consistent with the surgeon general’s report. That report, issued on Jan. 17, found that some of today’s cigarettes are more addictive than those from earlier decades, based on the findings of a Federal District Court judge in 2006 who had access to industry documents spelling out how cigarettes were designed to make them more addictive. The industry’s tactics included designing filters and selecting cigarette paper to maximize the ingestion of nicotine and adding chemicals to make cigarettes taste less harsh and easier to inhale deeply.

Nicotine itself, in addition to its addictive qualities, has harmful effects on the human body. The surgeon general’s report concluded that nicotine activates biological pathways that increase the risk for disease, adversely affects maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, and can have lasting adverse consequences for brain development in fetuses and adolescents. At high doses, nicotine is toxic and sometimes lethal. A rapid increase in nicotine blood levels can also raise heart rate and blood pressure and narrow arteries around the heart.

Still, the main problem is that nicotine addicts people to smoking, which exposes them to a host of toxic ingredients. Regulators will need to find ways to block the designs, ingredients and marketing strategies that increase the amount of nicotine taken in by smokers.


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


January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Anti-Vaccine Movement

Source: LA Times
By: Michael Hiltzik
Published: January 20, 2014


Measles outbreaks (purple) worldwide and whooping cough (green) in the U.S., thanks in part to the anti-vaccination movement. (Council on Foreign Relations)

Aaron Carroll today offers a graphic depiction of the toll of the anti-vaccination movement. (H/t: Kevin Drum.) It comes from a Council on Foreign Relations interactive map of “vaccine-preventable outbreaks” worldwide 2008-2014.

A couple of manifestations stand out. One is the prevalence of measles in Europe — especially Britain — and the U.S. Measles is endemic in the underdeveloped world because of the unavailability of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

But in the developed world it’s an artifact of the anti-vaccination movement, which has associated the vaccine with autism. That connection, promoted by the discredited British physician Andrew Wakefield and the starlet Jenny McCarthy, has been thoroughly debunked. But its effects live on, as the map shows.

Vaccine panic also plays a role in the shocking incidence in the U.S. of whooping cough, also beatable by a common vaccine. Researchers have pointed to the effect of “non-medical exemptions” from legally required whooping cough immunizations — those premised on personal beliefs rather than medical reasons — as a factor in a 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California.

ALSO: The seamy history of the vaccine-autism “link”

These manifestations underscore the folly and irresponsibility of giving credence to anti-vaccination  fanatics, as Katie Couric did on her network daytime TV show in December. We examined the ethics of that ratings stunt here and here.

Among other worthwhile examinations of the impact of the anti-vaxxers, see this piece about growing up unvaccinated in Great Britain in the 1970s, and this disturbing piece by Julia Ioffe about her battle with whooping cough, a disease no American should have.

The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That’s what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions — and publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like Wakefield and McCarthy by heedless promoters like, sadly, Katie Couric, affect us all.

Carroll, who assembles the relevant papers and documents on the MMR/Autism sophistry here, deserves the last word. “Vaccinate your kids,” he writes. “Please.”


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


January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Medical overcharges becoming all too common

By: Ralph Nader
Published: January 21, 2014


An epidemic of sky-rocketing medical costs has afflicted our country and grown to obscene proportions. Medical bills are bloated with waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and outrageous over-billing. Much is wrong with the process of pricing and providing health care.

The latest in this medical cost saga comes from new data released last week by National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nurse’s organization. In a news release, NNU revealed that fourteen hospitals in the United States are charging more than ten times their costs for treatment. Specifically, for every $100 one of these hospitals spends, the charge on the corresponding bill is nearly $1,200.

NNU’s key findings note that the top 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals have “a charge to cost ratio of 765% and higher — more than double the national average of 331%.” They found that despite the enactment of “Obamacare” — the Affordable Care Act — overall hospital charges experienced their largest increase in 16 years. For-profit hospitals continue to be the worst offenders with average charges of 503% of their costs compared to publically-run hospitals (“…including federal, state, county, city, or district operated hospitals, with public budgets and boards that meet in public…”) which show more restraint in pricing. The average charge ratios for these hospitals are 235% of their costs.

The needless complications of the vast medical marketplace have provided far too many opportunities for profiteering. Numerous examples of hospital visit bills feature enormous overcharges on simple supplies such as over-the-counter painkillers, gauze, bandages and even the markers used to prep patients for surgery. Not to mention the cost of more advanced procedures and use of advanced medical equipment being billed at several times their actual cost. These charges have resulted in many hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges.

When pressed for answers, many hospital representatives are quick to defer to factors out of their control. It’s the cost of providing care they might say, or perhaps cite other vague aspects of running the business of medical treatment adding up, and factored into these massive charges. Cost allocations mix treatment costs with research, cash reserves, and just plain accounting gimmicks. These excuses shouldn’t fly in the US.

Few in the medical industry will acknowledge the troubling trend. One thing is undeniably certain however — the medical marketplace is not suffering for profits. Health-care in the United States is a nearly $3 trillion a year industry replete with excessive profits for many hospitals, medical supply companies, pharmaceutical companies, labs and health insurance vendors.

Americans spend more on health care than anywhere else in the world. One would hope and wish, at the least, that this enormous expenditure would provide a quality of healthcare above and beyond that found in the rest of the western world. The reality is that the results on average are no better than in France, Germany, Canada and elsewhere, which manage to provide their quality treatment without all the overcharges.

Much like our similarly wasteful, bloated military budget, the U.S. spends more on health care than the next ten countries combined — most of which cover almost all of their citizens. The United States spends $8,233 per person, per year according to a 2012 figure from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The average expenditure of the thirty three other developed nations OECD tracked is just $3,268 per person.

It gets worse. Harvard’s Malcolm Sparrow, the leading expert on health care billing fraud and abuse, conservatively estimates that 10% of all health care expenditure in the United States is lost to computerized billing fraud. That’s $270 billion dollars a year!

And unlike other commercial markets, where the advance of technology routinely makes costs lower, the reverse trend is in effect when providing medical care — the prices just keep soaring higher and higher. The flawed, messy Obamacare system will do little to help this worsening profit-grab crisis, which is often downright criminal in the way it exploits tragedy-stricken people and saddles them with mountains of debt.

Steven Brill’s TIME magazine cover story from February 2013 titled “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” gives an in-depth and highly-researched rundown of the severity of the medical cost problem and provides some of the worst, most astonishing examples of profiteering off of the plight of the sick or injured.

Here’s a fact that puts the full scope of this troubling trend into perspective — Brill writes: “The health-care industrial complex spends more than three times what the military industrial complex spends in Washington”. Specifically, the medical industry has spent $5.36 billion on lobbying in Washington D.C. since 1998. Compare that expenditure to the $1.53 billion spent lobbying by the also-bloated defense and aerospace sector.

One line summarizes the breadth of Brill’s enormous piece: “If you are confused by the notion that those least able to pay are the ones singled out to pay the highest rates, welcome to the American medical marketplace.”

Americans who can’t pay and therefore delay diagnosis and treatment are casualties. About 45,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford health insurance according to a peer-reviewed report by Harvard Medical School. No one dies in Canada, Germany, France or Britain for lack of health insurance. They are all insured from the time they are born.

Obamacare, which has already confused and infuriated many Americans — and even some experts — with its complexity — thousands of pages of legislation and regulations, clearly not the answer to the problem. Long before the internet, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months using index cards. Canada’s single-payer system was enacted with only a 13-page bill — and it covers everyone for less than half the cost per capita compared to the US’s system.

Enacting a single payer, full Medicare-For-All system is the only chance the United States has of unwinding itself from the spider web of waste, harm, and bloat that currently comprise its highly flawed health insurance and health care systems. It’s time to cut out the corporate profiteers and purveyors of waste and fraud and introduce a system that works for everybody.

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

Influence of fluorescence on screening decisions for oral lesions in community dental practices

Source: Cancer Prevention Research – American Association for Cancer Research
By: Denise M. Laronde, P Michele Williams, T Greg Hislop, Catherine Poh, Samson Ng, Chris Badjik, Lewei Zhang, Calum MacAuley, and Miriam Rosin



Oral cancer is a global issue, with almost 300,000 new cases reported annually. While the oral cavity is cancer site that is easily examined, >40% of oral cancers are diagnosed at a late stage when prognosis is poor and treatment can be devastating. Opportunistic screening within the dental office could lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention with improved survival. Tools to aid screening are available but it is vital to validate them within the general dental office amongst clinicians with less experience than specialists in high-risk clinics. Fluorescence visualization (FV) is a tool used to assess alterations to tissue fluorescence. The goal of this study was to determine how clinicians made decisions about referral based on the risk classification of the lesion, how FV was integrated and how it affected the decision to refer. Information on FV rates in private practice and how FV affects decision making is vital to determine the feasibility of using this tool in a general practice setting.

Methods: 15 dental offices participated in a 1-day workshop on oral cancer screening, including an introduction to and use of FV. Participants then screened patients (medical history, convention oral exam, fluorescent visualization exam) in-office for 11 months. Participants were asked to triage lesions by apparent risk: low, intermediate and high. Low-risk (LR) lesions were common and benign conditions including geographic tongue, candidiasis and known trauma. High-risk (HR) lesions were white or red lesions or ulcers without apparent cause and lichenoid lesions. Clinicians then made the decision on which lesions to reassess in 3 weeks based on risk assessment and clinical judgment. Lesions of concern were seen by a community facilitator or referred to an oral medicine specialist.

Results: Of 2404 patients screened, 357 had lesions with 325 (15%) identified as low risk (LR) and 32 (9%) as high risk (HR). 192 of the 357 lesions were FV+ (54%), 26 FVE (7%) and 139 FV= (39%). Factors significantly associated with the presence of lesion included older age, history of smoking, and history of drinking alcohol. Lesions which were not white in colour were more apt to be FV+ (RR=5.6; 95%CI: 3.0 – 10.4) while a rough texture was associated with FV- (RR=0.47; 95%CI: 0.25-0.88). However, rough lesions were more likely to persist to the reassessment appointment (RR=3.7; 95%CI: 1.2-11.2), as did lesions assessed at the initial appointment as HR (RR=2.7; 95%CI: 1.4-5.1). The most predictive model for lesion persistence included both FV status (FV+) and lesion risk assessment (HR).

Conclusion: A protocol for screening: assess risk, reassess and refer is recommended for the screening of abnormal intraoral lesions. Integrating FV into a process of assessing and reassessing lesions significantly improved this model. With education, clinicians can eliminate low risk FV+ lesions at either the initial screening appointment or at reassessment.

Citation Format: Denise M. Laronde, P Michele Williams, T Greg Hislop, Catherine Poh, Samson Ng, Chris Badjik, Lewei Zhang, Calum MacAuley, Miriam Rosin. Influence of fluorescence on screening decisions for oral lesions in community dental practices. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research; 2012 Oct 16-19; Anaheim, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Prev Res 2012;5(11 Suppl):Abstract nr B05.

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

New RNA interference technique finds seven genes for head and neck cancer

Source: The Rockefeller University
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014


In the hunt for genetic mutations that cause cancer, there is a lot of white noise. So although genetic sequencing has identified hundreds of genetic alterations linked to tumors, it’s still an enormous challenge to figure out which ones are actually responsible for the growth and metastasis of cancer. Scientists in Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development have created a new technique that can weed out that noise — eliminating the random bystander genes and identifying the ones that are critical for cancer. Applying their technique to head and neck cancers, they’ve discovered seven new tumor-suppressor genes whose role in cancer was previously unknown.

interfering with cancer

Interfering with cancer.  A section of a head and neck tumor — red and green markers show the proliferation of cancer stem cells — that formed when one of several newly characterized genes, Myh9, was suppressed. A recently developed genetic screening technique using RNA interference identified Myh9’s protein, myosin IIa, as playing an important role in tumor suppression.

The new technique, which the lab recently applied to a screen for skin tumor genes, is particularly useful because it takes a fraction of the resources and much less time than the traditional method for determining gene function — breeding genetically modified animals to study the impact of missing genes.

“Using knockout mice, which are model organisms bred to have a particular gene missing, is not feasible when there are 800 potential head and neck cancer genes to sort through,” says Daniel Schramek, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab, which is headed by Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor Elaine Fuchs. “It can take about two years per gene. Our method can assess about 300 genes in a single mouse, in as little as five weeks.”

The researchers made use of RNA interference, a natural process whereby RNA molecules inhibit gene expression. They took short pieces of RNA which are able to turn off the function of specific genes, attached them to highly concentrated viruses, and then, using ultrasound to guide the needle without damaging surrounding tissue, they injected the viruses into the sacs of mouse embryos.

“The virus is absorbed and integrated into the chromosomes of the single layer of surface cells that cover the tiny embryo,” explains Fuchs. “As the embryo develops, this layer of cells becomes the skin, mammary glands and oral tissue, enabling us to efficiently, selectively and quickly eliminate the expression of any desired gene in these tissues. The non-invasive method avoids triggering a wound or inflammatory response that is typically associated with conventional methods to knockdown a gene in cultured cells and then engraft the cells onto a mouse.”

When the mice grew, the researchers determined which genes, when turned off, were promoting tumor growth, and what they found was surprising.

“Among the seven novel tumor suppressor genes we found, our strongest hit was Myh9, which codes for the protein myosin IIa, a motor protein with well-known function in cell structure and cell migration,” says Schramek. “Through further functional studies we found that myosin IIa is also required for activation of the main guardian of the genome — a tumor suppressor protein called p53.”

The lab showed that when the myosin IIa gene was mutated, p53 was not able to build up in the cell nucleus, and chaos ensued: genes responsible for repairing damaged cells and killing off tumor cells were not activated, and invasive carcinomas spread within three months.

The researchers devised a strategy to reactivate p53 in these cells, and showed in vitro that tumor suppression was restored. “Head and neck cancers are the sixth most deadly type of cancer worldwide. Interestingly, Myh9 is also mutated in human head and neck cancers, and low expression of myosin IIa correlates with poor prognosis for the patient,” says Fuchs. The group hopes to examine the effect in clinical trials in the future, and plans to look at the function of the other six genes their study identified.

“We’ve demonstrated that this method of RNA interference is highly useful in the rapid discovery, validation and characterization of tumor suppressor genes that might otherwise be missed in a genetic screen,” says Schramek. “It can be applied to many kinds of cancers, such as breast and lung.”

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


January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Number of cancer stem cells might not predict outcome in HPV-related oral cancers

Source: Medical Xpress
Published: January 22, 2014
By: Amanda J. Harper

(Medical Xpress)—New research from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) suggests that it may be the quality of cancer stem cells rather than their quantity that leads to better survival in certain patients with oral cancer.

The researchers investigated cancer stem cell numbers in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) and in oral cancers not associated with the virus. Typically, patients with HPV-positive oral cancer respond better to therapy and have a more promising prognosis than patients with HPV-negative tumors. The latter are usually associated with tobacco and alcohol use.

The OSUCCC – James team’s findings, published in the journal Cancer, suggest that relying on the number of cancer stem cells in a tumor might inaccurately estimate the potential for the tumor’s recurrence or progression.

“We show that high levels of cancer stem cells are not necessarily associated with a worse prognosis in head and neck cancer, a finding that could have far-reaching implications for patient care,” says principal investigator Quintin Pan, PhD, associate professor of otolaryngology and scientist with the OSUCCC – James Experimental Therapeutics Program.

Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 600,000 cases diagnosed annually. Although the disease is often linked to alcohol and tobacco use, cancer-causing types of HPV are a major risk factor for the malignancy, and cases of HPV-associated oral cancers have tripled in the past 30 years.

Cancer stem cells make up only a small percent of the malignant cells within a tumor. When these cells divide, they can produce either more cancer stem cells or the nondividing malignant cells that constitute the bulk of a tumor.

Research has shown that cancer stem cells are highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiation and those cancer stem cells that survive treatment cause tumor recurrence. For these reasons, it is thought that tumors with high numbers of cancer stem cells are more likely to recur.

In this study, Pan and his OSUCCC – James collaborators hypothesized that patients with HPV-positive tumors had better outcomes because their tumors had fewer cancer stem cells than tumors with HPV-negative tumors. They discovered just the opposite, however.

Comparing numbers of cancer stem cells in human tumor samples and in oral-cancer cell lines, they found that the HPV-positive samples had 2.4 to 62.6 times more cancer stem cells than did the HPV-negative samples.

“Most cancer biologists would have expected tumors with high cancer stem cell numbers to be very difficult to cure because cancer stem cells are thought to convey resistance to conventional therapy,” adds Ted Teknos, MD, study collaborator and director of head and neck cancer surgery at the OSUCCC – James.

“However, it may be that HPV-induced head and neck cancer is highly curable primarily because the stem cells are sensitive to therapy. It’s not the presence or absence of stem cells that is important in cancer, but rather how well does your therapy eliminate them.”


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

January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

Cancer survivors demand picture-based warnings on cigarette labels

Author: staff

MANILA, Philippines — More than 150 anti-smoking activists, including throat cancer survivors, marched to the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City Thursday to urge government to fast-track the passage of legislation requiring tobacco firms to put graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.

The “Right to Health Walk” is the third march organized by New Vois Association of the Philippines to push public health issues to the fore.

“Ten percent of the world’s 1.3 billion smokers can be found in Southeast Asia where the Philippines belong. We are the second largest smoking population in this region with 17.3 million adults smoking. More than 87,000 Filipinos die every year because of smoking — that’s more than the number of those who succumb to heart attack and stroke. This is clear and present danger that must be addressed at the soonest,” Emer Rojas, NVAP president, said.

Rojas said graphic health warnings provide a clearer message about the harm smoking causes, especially to women, children, and the poor who are lured to the habit by the attractive designs of cigarette packs.

The newly released Tobacco Atlas of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance showed the Philippines among the three countries with the most number of smoking women in the region.

It is estimated that nine percent of Filipino women smoke. This is statistically more than Indonesia, which has the most number of smokers in the region. Only 4.5 percent of Indonesian women smoke.

The Tobacco Atlas also estimates that 10.5 percent of Filipino children aged 13-15 years smoke.

“The tobacco industry is out to target a new generation of smokers,” Rojas said, noting that there are “cigarette packs designed like chocolate bars and lipstick.”

“While the industry is barred by law to advertise their products, these packages serve as the cheapest way to communicate to their potential customers,” he said. “Pictures are more effective at sending a powerful message than mere texts. We want pictures to save lives than peddle death through smoking. Implementing a law that will mandate the industry to place health warnings is not just about passing a legislation it’s about addressing a public health concern. Graphic health warnings will tell women, children and the poor the real effects of smoking and they can make an informed choice if they will still go for it,” Rojas stressed.

Although picture warnings should have been implemented in 2010 as part of the Philippines’ commitment to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a suit filed by the tobacco industry has stopped the Department of Health from enforcing this.

January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|

LED Medical, BC Cancer Agency, Genome British Columbia to develop test for oral cancer

Author: staff

LED Medical Diagnostics this week announced an agreement to form a collaboration to develop and commercialize a progression-risk assessment test for oral cancer. The agreement is with BC Cancer Agency to form a relationship with Genome British Columbia. The test, LED said, is based on loss of heterozygosity.

The Genome BC Strategic Opportunities Fund is funding the project called “Development of an actionable molecular test for risk assessment of oral precancers,” which is designed to leverage research that Canada’s National Institute of Health and the Terry Fox Research Institute funded. Catherine Poh, an associate professor of dentistry at the University of British Columbia, is the project leader.

In a statement, LED Medical’s Founder and Director Peter Whitehead said, “Until recently, a major barrier to oral cancer prevention has been the lack of validated risk predictors for oral premalignant lesions. …This test, which measures specific genetic changes that have been shown to predict aggressive tumor growth, has the potential to lower oral cancer morbidity and mortality rates.”

“Throughout the development process we will strive to create the first test that quantifies the likelihood that an oral lesion will progress to cancer,” he added.

LED Medical is based in British Columbia and develops LED-based visualization technologies.

January, 2014|Oral Cancer News|