A story NOT silenced by oral cancer: a message to dental professionals

Source: dentistryiq
Author: Eva Grayzel

The storyteller gets tongue cancer? How ironic! Sharing my personal oral cancer journey publicly is a tribute to those who came before me and an obligation to those who will follow. Knowing my story will save lives. That’s why I tell it. Here it is, in a nutshell.

Just a simple little sore spot
It started with a sore on the left side of my tongue. A strange place for what seemed like an ordinary canker sore. After four weeks, I went to an oral surgeon, complaining of pain. He said if it bothered me so much, he could take it off.

Two weeks later, the oral surgeon’s receptionist called to tell me my biopsy was negative. “Excuse me, are you calling the right patient?” I was never told about a biopsy.

“The oral surgeon took tissue from your tongue, correct?” she questioned.

“Yes, that was me.” I thought to myself, What could they possibly be looking for in a biopsy of the tongue?

“You have nothing to worry about,” she assured me.

I did not know I had to worry.

She should have said my biopsy was negative for cancer. I had no idea you could get cancer in the mouth. No dental professional had ever used the word cancer in my presence. Cancer of the oral cavity was simply beyond my scope of understanding.

“Nothing to worry about”
Two years later, the sore returned right over the biopsy site. Eight weeks later, I returned to the oral surgeon. He reviewed my records and explained the biopsy showed a hyperkeratotic lesion. “That’s like a callous on the tongue. Nothing to worry about.”

For the next nine months, I was bounced back and forth between my dentists and oral surgeons. When the gels and rinses didn’t work, my teeth were shaved down. When that didn’t resolve the issue, I was fitted for a nightguard to protect my tongue from my teeth. Whatever was prescribed, I followed doctors’ orders.

No one ever questioned the biopsy. Unfortunately for me, the biopsy was read by a general pathologist at a local hospital. (When I was finally diagnosed, a head and neck pathologist reread the original specimen as moderate dysplasia, which was potentially premalignant. Regular clinical follow-up would have been recommended.) Instead, all my treating doctors were led down the garden path. A nonhealing lesion in a never-smoker and nondrinker has an even higher index of suspicion.

Over and over I was told, “If it doesn’t improve, come back.” If there is just one takeaway from reading my story, I hope you refrain from providing patients those directions. In essence, it is asking patients to self-diagnose. My dental professionals should have said, “If it doesn’t resolve completely in two weeks, you need to return.”

An excruciating earache was the next dead giveaway that we were dealing with something serious. However, I was unaware about any potential danger. My GP treated me for water on the eardrum. Little did we know the tumor was growing and impacting the nerve to my ear.

Searching for answers
I was desperate for a solution. A family friend and cleft palate surgeon in New York City asked me if I had been to a major medical center. I hadn’t even thought of it. Following his recommendation, I scheduled an appointment to see Dr. Mark Urken, the chief of Head and Neck at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

I took the bus into Manhattan from my home in Pennsylvania, not having an inkling that the lesion on my tongue was remotely serious. Dr. Urken looked at the classic ulceration, felt an enlarged lymph node, and asked, “Who are you here with?” I didn’t know I needed to bring someone.

His assistant made a call to my mother who lived nearby in New Jersey and could be by my side within 30 minutes. When I awoke from the “minimally invasive” procedure, my mom was squeezing my hand.

Dr. Urken took a deep breath and said, “You have a squamous cell carcinoma on the lateral border of your tongue.” Woozy from anesthesia, I asked if it was benign. In an apologetic tone, he said, “Eva, you are in an advanced stage of oral cancer.”

I never heard those words together before. You could get cancer in the mouth? Shock overtook me. My ability to hear, smell, and see shut down. Eating well, exercise, never using tobacco products hadn’t protected me from this disease. And it won’t protect you or your patients. No one is at no risk for oral cancer.

Screen and get screened!
Hygienists are on the front line for catching this disease in its early stages when it’s easily survivable. Most oral cancers are caught late, resulting in facial disfiguration, difficulty articulating words, and long-term loss of quality of life.

When I speak at dental conferences, attendees expect me to ask, “Do you screen your patients for oral cancer at least once a year?” Instead, I ask, “Do you get a thorough oral cancer screening for yourself?” You may be surprised by the answer. Talk to your doctor today and develop a standard of care for screenings in your dental office.

Three of 40 lymph nodes had cancer. I was diagnosed at stage IV. One-third of my tongue was reconstructed with tissue from my arm and leg. Since I was young, 33, with two young children at home, my oncologist recommended a maximum dose of radiation. At least, with surgery, I felt better every day. With radiation, it’s just the opposite!

On April 1, 2021, I celebrated 23 years of survivorship (and that’s no April Fool’s joke!). How did I celebrate? I told my story so others won’t have to suffer what I experienced. What greater reward and privilege could I ask for? Thank you for reading to the end. Share this story. Spread awareness. Together, we can save lives.

Motivational speaker Eva Grayzel’s survival story turns what could have been a tragic end into a powerful new beginning. She is the founder of Six-Step Screening, an oral cancer awareness campaign with patient education material for dental professionals. She authored two award-winning children’s books to promote dialogue and minimize fear around cancer. You can reach Eva at evagrayzel.com or SixStepScreening.org.

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Addressing unmet needs for head and neck cancer awareness month

Source: www.targetedonc.com
Author: Sara Karlovitch

Head and neck cancers, also known as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, account for nearly 50,000 cases of cancer per year in the United States.

April is head and neck cancer month. According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), alcohol and tobacco use are major risk factors for developing head and neck cancers. However, infection with the cancer-causing types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases the risk for certain forms of the cancer, as well as eating preserved or salted foods, poor oral hygiene, occupational exposure to wood dust, asbestos, and synthetic fibers, radiation exposure, and Epstein-Barr virus infection in endemic regions, including southeast Asia.

Head and neck cancers are more common among men than women. Additionally, most patients who are diagnosed with this type of cancer are 50 years or older. Symptoms include a lump or sore on that does not go away or heal, difficulty swallowing, changes in voice, or a sore throat that does not resolve or heal.

Trials such as the KEYNOTE-048 study (NCT02358031), which investigated the use of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) as a first line treatment for recurrent or metastatic squamous cell cancer of the head and neck, have changed how head and neck cancers are treated. While many patients recover, many are still affected by life-long disabilities as the result of their disease and treatment.

Stuart J. Wong, MD, a medical oncologist, professor, and director of the Center for Disease Prevention Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, discussed the KEYNOTE-048 trial, advances in head and neck cancers, and current unmet needs in this patient population in an interview with Targeted Oncology.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: Can you discuss the evolution of treatments for patients with head and neck cancer?

WONG: Probably the biggest evolution is the integration of immune oncology into our treatment of head and neck cancer. We now have a first line indication for the use of an immune checkpoint inhibitor for patients with recurrent/metastatic head and neck cancer. This has been very successful in improving the overall survival for this patient population. Based upon the success of these agents in the recurrent and metastatic setting, there have been many new studies launched to test immune oncology agents into earlier stages of disease and to test novel immunotherapy combinations. The results of many of those studies are still anxiously being awaited.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: What are your preferred first-line and later-line treatments in this setting?

WONG: My preferred first line is off of a clinical trial, pembrolizumab. The results of the KEYNOTE-048 study are very exciting and a huge help for patients, however we’re still not satisfied with that. My first choice, if at all possible, is to enroll patients in a clinical trial. Roughly about 20% of the patients with recurrent metastatic disease may have long-term survival with the use of pembrolizumab. Other patients receive benefits that may improve their survival, which is fantastic, but we’re not satisfied with those results and want to have higher response rates and more patients who would benefit from this therapy and more patients that have long-term survival. The only way we can do this is enroll patients in clinical trials and push the envelope even further and find strategies to improve the outcome of our patients.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: What are some clinical trials of therapies in this setting right now, including for PD-L1 inhibitors and EGFR inhibitors?

WONG: The most exciting area of research are studies for patients who have progressed on an immune checkpoint inhibitor or have shown initial refractory disease. The most intriguing studies out there are for cellular therapies or other immune strategies. These novel therapies alone or in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor may overcome that initial resistance or subsequent resistance. There are many different strategies that are being explored. We are anxiously awaiting their results. As of yet, none of these strategies have proven to be successful compared with standard strategies. But I think in the next few years, we’re going to have some really dramatic results; something that will improve the outcome of this population of patients.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: Can you talk about the role of low dose radiation for these patients?

WONG: This is an exciting area of research. The idea is that many of our patients with HPV-associated cancer have a favorable outcome and that you might be able to decrease the intensity of therapy and improve their outcome is a very promising strategy. A group from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has led an interesting pilot study in which they decrease the intensity of the radiation using a significantly lower dose but kept cisplatin in the treatment regimen. Those results are very promising. The subsequent study of this paradigm and a larger multicenter trial would potentially warrant a sea of change in the way we manage patients. There are other strategies that are attempting to do the same thing. But this is an exciting area of research and something that patients seem to be very interested in exploring. We look forward to clinical trials that employ this technique.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: Please go into detail on some of the unmet needs that are still relevant in the space.

WONG: The biggest one, I think, is that in clinical research, we still have a small minority of patients with head and neck cancer who enroll in clinical trials. There are many causes for this, but we cannot make progress in the treatment of these cancers unless we have more opportunities for patients to go on clinical trials and more clinical trials to offer to patients. It is frustrating that our progress is slow and that we cannot offer more advances to patients. There are some diseases where a much higher percentage of patients are treated on clinical trials initially and then when they recur, clinical trials are really part and parcel of the standard management of certain diseases. We don’t have that luxury in head and neck cancer, and this is something that we need to overcome. There is a desire for patients and for their physicians to make quicker progress. We cannot do that unless we have more resources at our fingertips to allow that to happen, and to make more progress on our patients.

I think the other big area that is in need of progress is supportive care oncology. Many of the treatment modalities that we utilize to cure or attempt to cure our patients have significant morbidity. The adverse effects linger with patients, sometimes for the rest of their life. While we’re happy that our patients are able to have their lives extended, or in some cases be cured, it makes us very frustrated that they do so at the expense of, sometimes, lifelong disabilities. We need more research into supportive care and survivorship issues. Many of us are very dedicated to this. But again, that runs into the issue that we have limited resources; there’s not as much funding for this kind of research. This is, I would say, a very big unmet need and frequently doesn’t rise to the top of discussion when we talk about cancer therapy and clinical trials.

TARGETED ONCOLOGY: Are there any specific upcoming trials or therapies that you think show promise in head and neck cancer?

WONG: If you would ask me in 2 months, I might have some really good ideas for you. I always look forward to our upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. I’m sure this one promises to show some really exciting results. I guarantee in the next few years, we’re going to be making some exciting progress with respect to new technologies, especially cellular therapy strategies and immune oncology strategies. I can’t put bets on one line of research as being the most promising but there are many exciting lines of evidence that are being explored in ongoing clinical trials and clinical trials that are on the drawing board. I simply would say stay tuned and hopefully we’ll have some exciting news in the near future.

Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. AACR. Accessed April 13, 2021. https://bit.ly/3sgeRHA

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How this surgery center is changing the way doctors communicate with patients

Source: foxbaltimore.com
Author: WBFF staff

Head and neck cancers have a variety of causes, including human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, alcohol and tobacco use, sun exposure, poor oral health, or occupational exposure to hazardous materials. Regardless of the cancer’s cause, recovery often depends on how quickly a patient can begin treatment. The experience of starting treatment is of particular interest to Farzad Masroor, M.D., a surgeon at GBMC’s Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head and Neck Center, and his team.

“The head and neck areas are how we interface with the world,” he said. “The mouth and throat are vital to talking and tasting, and when treatments focus on those areas, it will invariably affect a patient’s quality of life.”

To help minimize the need for invasive treatments like surgery and radiation, Dr. Masroor and his colleagues prioritize early detection and care to yield the best possible outcomes.

Although patients are encouraged to see their primary physicians or dermatologists before making an appointment with a surgeon, Dr. Masroor also recommends that patients refer themselves if they are concerned that cancer is present.

“I would rather see my office filled with people who I can reassure about their health than have patients delay care and end up with something seriously wrong that requires a significant procedure,” he said.

Courtesy phone consultations with a head and neck surgeon at the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Center are available for patients in these instances. Though these are not designed to replace in-person visits, they allow patients to seek reassurance or validation about medical concerns from a professional.

“We live in a time when you can communicate with someone on the other side of the world, yet for some reason in healthcare, we place all these barriers between effective doctor/patient communication,” he said. “A consultation can involve reassuring a patient who’s seen multiple providers and just needs another set of ears to [listen and give] a second opinion.”

Phone consultations are a newer service being offered by the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Center due to need and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team plans to continue them in the future.

“I don’t think what we’re doing here is common practice,” he said. “But we know open communication between doctors and patients is better for everyone, and it ties into our broader mission to get patients to a timely diagnosis.”

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Cancer vaccine shows early promise across tumor types

Source: www.webmd.com
Author: Walter Alexander

A personalized cancer vaccine proved possible to manufacture and was well tolerated in an early phase I clinical trial, researchers said. The vaccine, known as PGV-001, was given to 13 patients with solid tumors or multiple myeloma who had a high risk of recurrence after surgery or stem cell transplant.

At last follow-up, four patients were still alive without evidence of disease and had not received subsequent therapy, four were alive and receiving therapy, three had died, and two could not be contacted for follow-up.

Thomas Marron, MD, of Mount Sinai in New York presented these results at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting recently.

“While cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of cancer, we know that the majority of patients fail to achieve significant clinical response,” Marron said during his presentation. Personalized vaccines may help prime an improved immune response, he said.

With this in mind, Marron and colleagues developed PGV-001, a vaccine consisting of customized peptides – a kind of amino acid — given to patients along with initial treatment.

Feasibility and safety
Vaccines were given to 13 patients. Six had head and neck cancer, three had multiple myeloma – a cancer of the white blood cells — two had lung cancer, one had breast cancer, and one had bladder cancer.

Eleven patients received all 10 intended doses, and two patients received at least eight doses.

“The vaccine was well tolerated, with only half of patients experiencing mild, grade 1 adverse events,” Marron said.

Four patients developed reactions at the injection site and one person Transient injection site reactions occurred in four patients, and one patient developed a low-grade fever.

After an exam after an average of 880 days, four patients had no evidence of cancer and had not received more therapy. This includes one patient with stage III lung cancer, one with stage IV positive breast cancer, one with stage II bladder cancer, and one with multiple myeloma.

Four patients were alive and receiving other kinds of therapy. Three patients have died, two of whom saw their cancers return.

“Our results demonstrate that the OpenVax pipeline is a viable approach to generate a safe, personalized cancer vaccine, which could potentially be used to treat a range of tumor types,” Bhardwaj said.

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Dental Professionals Should Remember the HPV Vaccine Too

Source: Dentistry Today
Date: April 13th, 2021
Author: Jo-Anne Jones

We live in a viral world as we patiently await the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people already have chosen to be vaccinated to protect themselves from getting the virus, or, at the very least, minimize its severity.

The harsh nature of the pandemic has led to expediency in developing the vaccine, which has not been typical, historically speaking. While the COVID-19 vaccine took less than a year to develop, the mumps vaccine took four years. The polio vaccine took 13 years. The human papillomavirus (HPV), flu, and chicken pox vaccines took 17, 27, and 28 years, respectively.

Looking back in the annals of history, we have the remarkable work of Edward Jenner to thank for his development of the first vaccine. His work involved deliberately infecting a human being with a mild dose of smallpox. His rigorous trials were controlled, repeatable, and documented in his 1798 publication, “An Inquiry Into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ.”

Jenner devoted the remainder of his life advocating for the safe and effective administration of the vaccine. In 1972, routine smallpox vaccination ended in the United States, followed by the World Health Organization declaring the disease’s elimination in 1980.

Another such vaccine victory is the polio vaccine, which was first available in the United States in 1955. Thanks to its widespread use, the United States has been polio-free since 1979.

And while the United States government has said that dentists can now administer the COVID-19 vaccine, there is another vaccine that we should bring to the attention of every adult who visits our practice: the HPV vaccine.

The Rise of Oropharyngeal Cancer

The fastest-growing segment of oropharyngeal cancers is attributed to HPV. Yet it can be prevented by the Gardasil HPV nine-valent vaccine (Gardasil 9 [9vHPV]). More than 270 million doses of the Gardasil HPV vaccine have been given worldwide, including 120 million doses in the United States.

Gardasil 9 is a non-infectious recombinant vaccine prepared from virus-like particles (VLPs) of the protein of HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

We accept vaccination due to perceived risk. Are your patients aware of the ubiquitous nature of this virus and the fact that merely being alive and sexually active may place them at inherent risk? Many of our patients who do not possess a history of tobacco or alcohol use do not perceive a risk of oral or oropharyngeal cancer.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV. HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has now surpassed HPV-related cervical cancer as the leading HPV-associated cancer.

Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. But in the past 40 years, the number of cervical cancer cases and the number of cervical cancer deaths have decreased significantly. This decline is primarily the result of opportunistic screening practices and the HPV vaccine.

Most sexually active Americans will clear the virus without consequence. Many of them will not be aware of even having the virus. However, for persistent infection with a high-risk strain such as HPV-16, the risk for malignant transformation is real.

In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved an expanded indication for Gardasil 9 for the prevention of oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. The vaccine is also indicated to prevent cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal, and penile cancer.

2021 is a year defined and impacted by an overstretched healthcare system. We have longer wait times and backlogs for cancer treatments than ever before. For a cancer that is essentially preventable by a vaccine, it is frustrating beyond words to know that many of our dental patients are unaware of its existence.

HPV is responsible for a small number of oral cancers, as the vast majority are caused by lifestyle behaviors including smoking and alcohol use—once again, preventable.

We are not powerless. Our patients do not have to fall victim to the collateral damage of COVID-19. We can encourage our patients to perform a self-examination of the oral cavity between professional visits. We can educate them about the subtle symptoms that may be associated with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

A North American campaign entitled Check Your Mouth was developed to educate the public about the importance of oral self-examination. It is the result of collaboration between the Oral Cancer Foundation and Holland Healthcare, developer of the Throat Scope and TelScope.

The Throat Scope is the world’s first all-in-one illuminated tongue depressor. The TelScope is a seamless oral telehealth delivery system capable of capturing real-time high-resolution images and emailing them to an oral healthcare provider via encrypted email.

Empower your patients. Share the science that we are most fortunate to have and recognize that we can proactively fight back in a viral world.

Ms. Jones is an award-winning speaker who has given over a thousand presentations across the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, and Bermuda. She also joins the Dentistry Today’s Leaders in Continuing Education for the eleventh consecutive year. With her frank and open lecture style, focus on direct knowledge translation to practice, and educational and clinical resources, she has earned many loyal followers both nationally and internationally. She may be reached at jjones@jo-annejones.com.


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2021-04-13T12:57:09-07:00April, 2021|OCF In The News|

Roche launches Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay to aid diagnosis of various cancer types

Source: www.globenewswire.com
Author: press release, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd

Roche today announced the launch of the Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay for the in vitro quantitative determination of anti-p53 antibodies. This test is used to aid physicians to diagnose throat cancer, bowel cancer and breast cancer in patients, in conjunction with other diagnostic tests. The assay is now available for all markets accepting the CE Mark.

“The addition of our Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay will help clinicians to quickly and reliably diagnose several prevalent cancers and might assist in leading to a better prognosis for many patients.”, said Thomas Schinecker, CEO Roche Diagnostics. “Beyond breakthrough cancer medicines, Roche also offers a growing number of testing solutions to help physicians diagnose and treat people with cancer.

p53 is protein which, when active, helps to regulate processes which stop tumors from developing. A mutation of p53 is present in half of solid tumor cancers and is the most common genetic change identified so far in human cancers.1 Certain mutations of p53 can lead to a build up of p53 which results in the formation of anti-p53 autoantibodies. Autoantibodies are antibodies that mistakenly target and react with a person’s own tissues. Between 20-50% of patients with mutated p53 will produce anti-p53 autoantibodies.2 This mutation causes the tumor suppressive function of p53 to switch to a tumor-promoting function and thus cancer development.

Early appearance of anti-p53 antibodies during tumour development may have potential to detect malignant changes.3 The Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay detects these anti-p53 antibodies and, when used with other diagnostic tests, can help to diagnose certain cancers, at an earlier stage, which may help to improve patient outcomes. Determining the presence of anti-p53 antibodies may also be useful for monitoring cancerous cells that are still in the body following treatment.4 In addition, the Elecsys Anti-p53 test could aid in determining which patients may require less invasive treatment procedures, as part of their cancer treatment.

About Elecsys Anti-p53
Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay for the in vitro quantitative determination of anti-p53 autoantibodies in human serum and plasma. Elecsys Anti-p53 is a high precision immunoassay, with a low turn-around time for testing, complementing our overall tumor marker portfolio. The new Elecsys Anti-p53 immunoassay uses the well-established electrochemiluminescence immunoassay “ECLIA” technology and is intended for use on cobas e immunoassay analyzers.

For further information on Elecsys immunoassays visit here.

[1] Yue X, et al. J Mol Biol 2017;429:1595-606
[2] Suppiach et al. World J Gastroenterol 2013 August 7; 19(29): 4651-4670
[3] Soussi T. Cancer Res 2000;60:1777-88
[4] Kastenhuber E & Lowe S. Cell 2017;170(6):1062-78

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Your cancer answers: can nutrition, exercise improve quality of life for head, neck cancer patients?

Source: syvnews.com
Author: John Malinowski, Marian Cancer Care

Question: How can nutrition and exercise improve quality of life for head and neck cancer patients?

Head and neck cancers affect more than 52,000 Americans each year and account for about 5% of new cancer cases worldwide. Treatment of head and neck cancer with concurrent chemo radiotherapy with curative intent may cause side effects leading to deterioration of long-term quality of life and disability that persists years after treatment.

Many head and neck cancer patients experience treatment related side effects such as; difficulty swallowing, difficulty with speech, loss of taste or smell and unintended weight loss which often can be attributed to decreased muscle mass.

There are a few things that you can do to try helping to maintain your body weight during treatment. Nutrition can be one tool to help ensure you are taking in enough calories and the right nutrients to help your body fight the cancer.

Often when undergoing cancer treatments our body has an increased demand of caloric intake. This can be a challenge to increase your calories while undergoing treatment so try eating several smaller meals throughout the day, maybe even every 2-3 hours. With each meal try to incorporate some carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Make sure you are intentional about chewing your food. You can try to chew each bite 50 times or trying to incorporate softer texture foods can make it easier to swallow. Steaming or boiling vegetables rather than eating raw may help. Softer foods like scrambled eggs, egg salad, soups or stews, oatmeal or cream of wheat, tofu, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, casseroles, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese are just a few options.

Knowing that your body requires an increase in protein intake during treatment think about having snacks with protein close by. Having Greek yogurt or pre-made smoothies like Ensure or Reason can be a quick high protein snack.

It is becoming widely known that exercising while going through treatment can help reduce symptoms like fatigue, nausea and anxiety or depression however a more important side effect a head or neck cancer patient may need to think about is the loss of body weight or muscle mass.

Incorporating an exercise routine which involves resistance exercises at a moderate intensity for your major muscle groups can help you maintain the muscle mass you have which can help you continue to perform the daily activities you want and need to do. It is also important to work smaller muscles of the neck to maintain function of swallowing and speech. A few exercises to try are:

Effortful Swallow – Collect saliva on your tongue then press your tongue hard against the roof of your mouth and swallow deliberately. Do three sets of 25 aiming for one swallow every 10 seconds.

Straw against resistance – Place a straw between your lips as if you were going to take a sip of liquid. Place a finger partially over the opening on the bottom of the straw and suck in. Feel your lips wrap around the straw tight! Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

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HPV vaccine leads to more than 80% drop in infections: What parents need to know

Source: Good Morning, America
Date: April 2nd, 2021
Author: Kathleen Kindalen


A new study has shown the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, and found a dramatic decline in human papillomavirus infections in both vaccinated and unvaccinated teen girls and young women in the United States.

“This study shows that the vaccine works very well against a common virus, HPV,” Dr. Hannah Rosenblum, lead author of the study and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told “Good Morning America.”

“HPV can cause serious health problems later in life, including some cancers in both women and men,” she said. “HPV vaccination is cancer prevention — by vaccinating children at age 11 or 12, we can protect them from developing cancers later in life.”

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and can cause health problems like genital warts in addition to cancer, which are most commonly cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men, according to the CDC.

The HPV vaccine was first authorized in the U.S. for females in 2006, and for males in 2011. There has since been a more than 80% decline in HPV infections nationally, according to the CDC study.

The newly-released data from the CDC shows an 88% decrease in HPV infections among 14 to 19-year-old females and an 81% decrease among 20 to 24-year-old females.

There has also been a drop in unvaccinated females, according to Rosenblum, who warned that does not mean people should let their guard down.

“We also see an effect among unvaccinated females in these age groups due to less spread of the virus, however, unvaccinated persons are not immune and are still at risk of getting HPV,” she said. “They should talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated if they are 26-years-old or younger.”

HPV viruses are found in 80 million people in the United States, according to the CDC. There are hundreds of subtypes of HPV, and 1 in 4 people in the U.S. are infected with HPV at some point in their lives.

The CDC recommends two doses of the HPV vaccine, taken six to 12 months apart, for all girls and boys ages 11 to 12, but says the vaccine can be given to children as young as 9.

Teens and older who are not vaccinated are encouraged to do so by the age of 26. People ages 15 and older need three doses of the vaccine, according to the CDC.

The timing of the vaccine has to do with the state of children’s immune systems and also trying to vaccinate pre-teens before they are sexually active, Dr. Laura Riley, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian in New York City, told “GMA.”

“Your immune system [at ages 11 and 12] is such that you have a robust response to this vaccine, and it lasts for a really long time,” she said. “But if you haven’t had it, still continue talking to your doctor about getting it up to age 26.”

Riley said she hopes the CDC’s new data — which stands out for being a 10-year study — combined with the safety of the HPV vaccine eases any remaining concerns parents may have about getting their children vaccinated against HPV.

“When [the HPV vaccine] first rolled out, the message wasn’t quite clear, so instead of people recognizing that you were going to prevent your kid from getting cancer, people were focused on the fact that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease,” she said. “The education has to continue so that parents can understand the real benefit of this vaccine.”

“The real benefit is to prevent your child from getting cervical cancer,” Riley said. “The fact that you can prevent [cervical cancer] with a vaccine that has been used for years and has shown to be safe, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Long-lasting infection with certain types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer, which has the best survival rates if detected early according to the CDC. Doctors routinely screen for cervical cancer with the Pap test and HPV DNA testing depending on age and risk factors.

“We need to make sure that the teenagers and pre-teens are getting the benefit of the HPV vaccine, because it really is an anti-cancer vaccine,” said Riley. “[Cervical cancer] is a really devastating disease.”

Globally, a woman loses her life to cervical cancer every two minutes, according to a 2019 article published in the medical journal The Lancet.

In the U.S., doctors on the frontlines like Riley said more must continue to be done to educate parents about the HPV vaccine and make sure that all children across the country have access to the vaccine. As of 2018, nearly 40% of adults ages 18 to 26 reported receiving one or more doses of the HPV vaccine, according to the CDC.

“We need to make sure that we work on access to this vaccine and make sure that all girls of all races and ethnicities have the access,” said Riley. “And we need to be sure that the message is clear so that everyone gets the two doses of the vaccine, because that’s what is associated with the best protection.”

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City offers Oral Cancer Screenings; Health Officials aim to reduce cancer rates, save lives

Source: El Paso Herald Post
Date: April 1st, 2021
Author: Staff Reporter

Thursday morning, city officials announced that they will be offering referral services and health screenings to decrease the rate of oral cancer diagnoses and save lives, in recognition of April’s National Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

“Improving oral and oropharyngeal cancer awareness in our community is imperative,” said Angela Mora, Department of Public Health Director.

“Oral cancer has an incidence rate of about 7.2 per 100,000 residents in El Paso County and affects males twice as much as females in the U.S., but we as a community can work to reduce the incidence rate by participating in Oral Cancer Awareness month.”

Mora said residents can take part in Oral Cancer Awareness month by:

  • Reducing the use of tobacco products

Tobacco use and vaping significantly increases the risk of infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes oral or oropharyngeal cancer.

  • Getting Screened

Oral and oropharyngeal cancers occur most often in the tongue, soft and hard palate, tonsils, gums and back of the throat which is why regular oral and dental examinations by a health professional is important.

  • Getting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine

According to the CDC, HPV is known to cause approximately 70 percent of oral and oropharyngeal cancer cases, and the HPV vaccine was developed to prevent infection by the high-risk types of HPV that cause cancers such as oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

For more information on the services and health screenings provided by the Department of Public Health visit EPHealth.com under the Services Tab Education and Promotion or call 2-1-1.


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UB awarded $1.5 million to reprogram white blood cells in fight against oral cancer

Source: Science Magazine
Date: March 25th, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo has received a $1.5 million grant from the United States Department of Defense to develop new therapies that help reduce chronic inflammation and immunosuppression in oral cancers.

Through the three-year grant, the research will center on a type of white blood cell called a macrophage that – after migrating to oral tumors – triggers uncontrolled inflammation, which suppresses the body’s immune response and lowers the effectiveness of anticancer therapies.

The researchers aim to reprogram the macrophages by targeting genes that regulate inflammation. By lowering inflammation, oral cancers will become more sensitive to new and traditional chemotherapies.

If successful, the findings could help increase survivorship of oral cancers, which claim the life of roughly half of all oral cancer patients within five years, according to Keith Kirkwood, DDS, PhD, principal investigator, Centennial Endowed Chair and professor of oral biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine.

“A change in behavior in the white blood cells within the tumor itself removes the ‘brakes’ in the system, causing more oral cancer growth,” says Kirkwood, also associate dean for innovation and technology transfer in the UB School of Dental Medicine. “We propose to reprogram the white blood cells to regain control of the brakes.”

Additional investigators from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center include Wesley Hicks Jr., MD, DDS, chair of the Department of Head and Neck/Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; William Magner, PhD, scientist in the Department of Immunology; and Scott Abrams, PhD, professor in the Department of Immunology.

The research will focus on oral squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of oral cancer. Found in the lips, mouth or throat, oral cancers can affect the ability to eat and speak, and may cause permanent disfigurement of the face.

Veterans are two times more likely to develop head and neck cancers than non-veterans, says Kirkwood. The increased risk may be attributed to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use among veterans, he says. Nearly 75% of oral cancers are caused by either alcohol or tobacco use, according to outside research.

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