Natick company develops test to detect head and neck cancer that could lead to earlier diagnosis

Source: Author: Alexi Cohan A saliva-based diagnostic test that can detect HPV-related head and neck cancer has the potential to catch the disease earlier and even serve as a standard screening method, which the medical community currently lacks. Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer caused by human papillomavirus that develops in the mouth and throat, is expected to cause more than 10,000 deaths this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Cases have been increasing significantly in men in recent years. But there is no screening method for this cancer right now, said Charlotte Kuperwasser, chief of clinical operations at Natick-based diagnostics company Naveris. She said most men who contract it will notice a lump in their throat and go to the doctor. But by that time, the cancer could be quite advanced. The new saliva test developed by Naveris has been shown to detect HPV-associated head and neck cancer with high accuracy, which is a first-of-its-kind study result and could offer a patient-friendly way to catch the cancer early. “Saliva is actually a very easy source, very non-invasive. It doesn’t require a medical professional to collect, it could even be done at home so there’s a lot of advantages to saliva,” Kupperwasser told the Herald. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis used the test to successfully analyze saliva for HPV genomes that are specific for DNA released from cancerous tumors. The study results highlighted the potential to use the test to catch the cancer [...]

How a microscopic fungus could lead to a breakthrough in oral cancer research

Source: Author: Case Western Reserve University Microscopic fungus may have more to do with oral cancer and aging than first thought, according to new research from Case Western Reserve University. Researchers from the School of Dental Medicine, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and School of Medicine are hoping a new study could lead to a medical breakthrough in understanding certain types of oral cancer. Pushpa Pandiyan, an associate professor of biological sciences at the dental school, led a team of local researchers studying the function of specific T cells, known as Tregs, during the development of oral cancer in aging mucosa, the moist inner lining of some organs and body cavities, such as the nose, mouth and lungs. “We think this is the beginning of something important and monumental,” she said. Their findings recently appeared in Frontiers in Oncology. Pandiyan and the researchers examined the role of dectin-1—a cell’s pattern-recognition and immune receptor—and its ability to trigger an inflammatory response that resists fungal infection. Dectin-1 is among the fungi receptors that expresses on a host cell. Typically, human white blood cells have regulatory (Tregs) and myeloid derived suppressor cells, which curb the immune responses of cancer-fighting immune cells. Problems occur, Pandiyan said, when these cells accumulate during tumor growth. “What we’re finding now is that the dectin-1 receptor, usually responsible for anti-fungal immunity, is now responsible for accumulation of these cells at excessive levels in tumors,” she said. Researchers point out that the culprit is likely the result of immune [...]

Suicide incidence and risk among patients with head and neck cancer in rural vs urban areas

Source: Author: Davy Lau and Alex Chan Survivors of head and neck cancer (HNC) from rural American counties had double the rate of suicides compared to HNC survivors from metropolitan and urban counties. Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good) Suicide has been in the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States since 2008. As well, the suicide rate is twice greater among cancer survivors, and 4 times as great with head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors. There is currently not much information on how living in an urban or rural setting may affect suicide rates for HNC survivors. This data is imperative due to the fact that cancer survival is lower in rural areas, and there is less access to cancer and mental health services rurally. The current study compared the incidence of suicide across metropolitan, urban, and rural counties for 134,510 HNC patients in the USA, from the years 2000 to 2016. Rural counties were defined as those with a population of less than 2500 people. The study found that In metropolitan counties, there were 59.2 suicides per 100,000 person-years; in urban counties, there were 64.0 per 100,000 person-years; and in rural counties, there were 126.7 per 100,000 person-years. Through cumulative incidence analyses, rural patients had the greatest incidence of suicide. Compared to those in rural counties, urban and metropolitan counties had around 50% the suicide risk (hazards ratio 0.51, 95% CI 0.28-0.92 and HR 0.48, 95% CI 0.28-0.82 respectively). Overall, this study underlies the need [...]

Giving hope: research on rare head and neck cancer treatment options

Source: Author: Antonia DePace Findings from a phase 3 clinical trial demonstrated improved tumor shrinkage rates with the immune checkpoint inhibitor toripalimab and a first-line chemotherapy combination for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a tumor that occurs in the nasopharynx (located behind the nose and above the back of the throat). The promising results may open the door to new clinical trials assessing triplet therapies with Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs and provide hope for better treatment options for this patient population. Results from the JUPITER-02 trial were presented at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. In 2020, toripalimab received a breakthrough-therapy designation (approval to expedite drug development) for metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Of note, toripalimab is approved in China for several indications, but it is not FDA approved. Currently, the worldwide standard of care for these patients is first-line chemotherapy with gemcitabine and cisplatin. “By adding immunotherapy to the combination, we hope to improve survival and increase the time from starting therapy to progression of the cancer,” said Dr. Glenn Hanna, director of the Center for Salivary and Rare Head and Neck Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in response to the trial results. “If the triplet (therapy) has better rates of tumor shrinkage and prolongs survival with a reasonable side effect profile, that’s a win.” The possible addition of a novel regimen is exciting. “Treatment advances for late-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma have lagged behind those of other cancers,” Dr. Julie R. Gralow, ASCO chief medical officer [...]

Calls grow for treatment deintensification of HPV-positive OPC

Source: Author: Bryan Fitzgerald, PharmD, BCOP Health-System Edition, July 2021, Volume 10, Issue 4 Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is a type of head and neck cancer that affects structures in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue, the posterior pharynx, the soft palate, and the tonsils.1 In the United States, rates of OPC are increasing each year, with an estimated 54,010 new cases in 2021.2 Well-established risk factors include alcohol abuse; exposure to tobacco, including chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and pipes; and infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). With an estimated 43 million infections in 2018, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.3 HPV infection is causally linked with cancers of the anogenital region, including anal, cervical, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. When HPV is spread orally, infections can also lead to the development of OPC. In the United States, more than 70% of OPC cases are caused by HPV.4 HPV is a group of more than 100 viruses, including certain high-risk strains associated with the development of cancer. The HPV-16 strain is responsible for causing the majority of HPV-positive (HPV+) OPC cases, with HPV-18, HPV-33, and HPV-35 also contributing, albeit significantly less than HPV-16.1 In these high-risk HPV strains, the viral genome encodes several oncogenic proteins that inhibit tumor suppressor proteins, leading to chromosomal instability and malignancy in infected cells. HPV+ OPC is considered a genetically distinct form of OPC. Compared with HPV-negative (HPC–) OPC cases, HPV+ OPC is associated with a [...]

Shades of Big Tobacco: How (and why) Juul bought an entire issue of a scientific journal

Source: Salon Date: July 20th, 2021 Author: Jon Skolnik   Facing the imminent threat of corporate death, the embattled e-cigarette maker Juul is pulling out all the stops in its fight to convince the Food and Drug Administration that its vaping products are more beneficial than harmful. If that sounds like a stretch, it probably is. Last month, Juul settled a $40 million lawsuit that accused the company of luring in teens to use its flavored vape products, allowing Juul to avoid the potential PR nightmare of a widely covered jury trial. Juul has also spent tens of millions in federal lobbying efforts over the past several years, presumably in an effort to block comprehensive regulations on the sale of e-cigarettes. But the most bizarre Juul news came two weeks ago, when the New York Times reported that the company had funded an entire issue of a scientific journal, in which every article presented evidence that vaping is a beneficial harm-reduction practice that can wean smokers off tobacco cigarettes. Last month, the American Journal of Health and Behavior (AJHB), a 44-year-old academic journal that has published many nationally recognized scholars, released a special edition specifically devoted to the question of whether e-cigarettes are harmful or helpful. The 219-page issue is unusual not just by virtue of its niche subject matter — e-cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon in the field of health behavior — but also because its publication was bankrolled entirely by one source: Juul Labs. This fraught episode comes at an exceptionally tumultuous time for the vape maker. In early 2019, Juul, a company founded just four [...]

2021-07-20T13:15:56-07:00July, 2021|Oral Cancer News|

Taste, smell dysfunction may persist after HNSCC treatment for longer than survivors anticipate

Source: Author: Bette Weinstein Kaplan Many people who survive squamous cell cancers of the head and neck (HNSCC) experience difficulty eating and drinking. The problem goes beyond the survivors’ active disease state and into recovery, where it continues to negatively affect their quality of life. HNSCC is the seventh most common cancer worldwide. These cancers are usually found in the oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx. Although often attributed to alcohol and tobacco use in the past, many malignancies seen today result from exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Treatment plans for HNSCC include combination regimens such as chemoradiation or single therapy such as surgery or radiation by itself. Taste dysfunction is one of the most common adverse effects patients report after treatment, and it has a significant impact on patients’ quality of life. M. Yanina Pepino, PhD, professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues recently conducted a study on the long-term effects of HNSCC treatment. Their goal was to determine when and if senses of taste and smell fully recover after treatment is completed. Most sensory evaluation studies reported the difficulty in taste and smell should be expected to resolve within several months after cessation of treatment; however, many survivors report continued taste dysfunction more than 6 months after treatment completion. For this study, Dr Pepino and her group recruited 40 survivors of HNSCC who had been treated with radiation therapy between 6 months and 10 years prior to recruitment. [...]

Blood test that finds 50 types of cancer is accurate enough to be rolled out

Source: Author: Nadeem Badshah A simple blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease emerge in a person is accurate enough to be rolled out as a screening test, according to scientists. The test, which is also being piloted by NHS England in the autumn, is aimed at people at higher risk of the disease including patients aged 50 or older. It is able to identify many types of the disease that are difficult to diagnose in the early stages such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and some blood cancers. Scientists said their findings, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, show that the test accurately detects cancer often before any signs or symptoms appear, while having a very low false positive rate. The test, developed by US-based company Grail, looks for chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream. The Guardian first reported on the test last year and how it had been developed using a machine learning algorithm – a type of artificial intelligence. It works by examining the DNA that is shed by tumours and found circulating in the blood. More specifically, it focuses on chemical changes to this DNA, known as methylation patterns. Now the latest study has revealed the test has an impressively high level of accuracy. Scientists analysed the performance of the test in 2,823 people with the [...]

Marine Corps corporal gets 3D-printed teeth with jaw reconstruction

Source: Author: Ed Adamczyk A Marine Corps member is the first recipient of the Defense Department's first jaw reconstruction using 3D-printed teeth, the Pentagon said on Friday. A tumor prompted the removal of most of Cpl. Jaden Murry's jaw in a November 2020 surgery. Murry is a member of Logistics Battalion 7, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. The jaw was reconstructed using a portion of his fibula, or lower leg bone, but his lower teeth were made using a digital model, which was then printed into a physical replacement bridge and inserted in the new jaw. The surgery was conducted by a multi-department team of surgical specialists at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. "All of the providers worked as a team to keep his recovery on track," Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hammer, maxillofacial surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon, said in a press release. "We were able to safely remove his tracheostomy tube [inserted in a patient's neck when there are concerns about postoperative breathing] within a week of the surgery, and it was then we knew he was making strides in the right direction." Murry is recovering in the Naval Center's Wounded Warrior Battalion, and on a diet of soft foods. A final prosthetic set of teeth will be available to him in about two months. "Since his surgery, [OMFS specialists and I] see Jaden twice weekly for check-ups, and we're guiding his healing process," Hammer said in December. "To see him swallowing, [...]

A challenge to chew on: eating and drinking after cancer treatment

Source: Author: Dara Chadwick, Heal Exercise has always been part of Scott Wieskamp’s life. But after cancer treatment, the longtime runner and marathoner added a new element to his training regimen — exercises to strengthen and maintain his swallowing muscles. "Every day while I’m driving to work, I open my mouth like I’m yawning to stretch all my facial muscles as much as I can,” says Wieskamp, 62, who lives just outside Lincoln, Nebraska. “I take my tongue and put it under the back of my lower teeth and push as hard as I can to exercise my tongue muscles. There’s about half a dozen things I do for a few minutes every day.” Four years ago, Wieskamp was treated for oral cancer caused by the human papillomavirus. The aggressive treatment, which included 39 radiation sessions and several doses of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, knocked out the cancer. But it also left Wieskamp unable to eat, and he lost 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. “As you get radiation in the neck and throat area, it becomes painful to swallow,” he says. “I quit doing all that. I quit eating, quit swallowing — I couldn’t even drink.” Because he was unable to get adequate nutrition, his doctors inserted a feeding tube so Wieskamp wouldn’t have to swallow. The tube stayed in place throughout his two months of treatment and for about a month after, he says. Although his nutrition improved, Wieskamp says he was left with another problem: [...]

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