Common local anesthetic may be effective against head and neck cancers

Source: Author: Paul McClure A new study has uncovered how the commonly used local anesthetic drug, lidocaine, activates bitter taste receptors to exert an anti-cancer effect in head and neck cancers. Given its low cost and ready availability, the drug could easily be incorporated into the treatment of patients with this challenging form of cancer. Anyone who’s had a cut sutured up or a dental procedure such as a filling will probably be familiar with lidocaine (also known as lignocaine). While it’s known how the local anesthetic drug exerts its pain-inhibiting effects, it’s been suggested that lidocaine also has a beneficial effect on cancer patients, although how is not fully understood. Now, a study led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has solved a long-standing mystery of how lidocaine causes the death of certain cancer cells. “We’ve been following this line of research for years but were surprised to find that lidocaine targets the one receptor that happened to be mostly highly expressed across cancers,” said Robert Lee, a corresponding author of the study. That ‘one receptor’ is T2R14, a bitter taste receptor that’s expressed in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs), cancers with a high mortality and significant treatment-related morbidity. HNSCCs arise in the mucosa of oral and nasal cavities due to exposure to environmental carcinogens and/or the human papillomavirus (HPV). In addition to their role in bitter taste perception, bitter taste receptors (T2Rs) are involved in innate immunity, thyroid function, cardiac physiology, [...]

2023-11-29T18:20:42-07:00November, 2023|Oral Cancer News|

Yes, really – the HPV vaccine is essential for men, too

Source: Author: Rhod Gilbert Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert was diagnosed with stage four cancer last year. The cancer was in his head and neck and was caused by a virus known as HPV. HPV virus is often associated with cervical cancer and with good reason. The virus is responsible for over 15% of cases of cervical cancer. However, as Gilbert’s diagnosis proves, HPV can affect anybody. In his documentary, Rhod Gilbert: A Pain In The Neck For SU2C, the comic spoke about why he’d decided to invite a film crew to watch him experience treatment for his condition and HPV, it seems, was a huge part of the reason. Gilbert said: “I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go on stage or TV, but I thought I might be well enough to lie in bed and talk to a documentary team about how ill I was. I thought, ‘It will give me something to do’. “Also, by that point, I’d found out my cancer had been caused by the HPV virus, something we vaccinate kids for. At every turn, I thought, ‘I can do something here, which might actually change things.’” Who the HPV vaccine is for According to the NHS, the HPV vaccine reduces your chances of getting the virus which is spread through skin contact – usually during sex, but not always. The vaccine protects against an increased risk of cervical, mouth, anal, and penile cancer. HPV can also cause genital warts. The vaccine is recommended [...]

2023-11-01T14:40:50-07:00November, 2023|Oral Cancer News|

Throat cancer is becoming an epidemic, and sex could be why

Source: Author: Hisham Mehanna, Professor, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham Over the past two decades, there has been a rapid increase in throat cancer in the west, to the extent that some have called it an epidemic. This has been due to a large rise in a specific type of throat cancer called oropharyngeal cancer (the area of the tonsils and back of the throat). The main cause of this cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which are also the main cause of cancer of the cervix. Oropharyngeal cancer has now become more common than cervical cancer in the US and the UK. HPV is sexually transmitted. For oropharyngeal cancer, the main risk factor is the number of lifetime sexual partners, especially oral sex. Those with six or more lifetime oral-sex partners are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not practice oral sex. Behavioral trends studies show that oral sex is very prevalent in some countries. In a study that my colleagues and I conducted in almost 1,000 people having tonsillectomy for non-cancer reasons in the UK, 80 percent of adults reported practicing oral sex at some point in their lives. Yet, mercifully, only a small number of those people develop oropharyngeal cancer. Why that is, is not clear. The prevailing theory is that most of us catch HPV infections and are able to clear them completely. However, a small number of people are not able to get rid [...]

2023-09-15T06:24:29-07:00September, 2023|Oral Cancer News|

New classification method for HPV-associated head and neck cancers

Source: Author: Vidya Nagalwade Over the past few decades, the number of cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) related to the human papillomavirus (HPV+) has risen significantly and is still rising. The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to an increase in cancer of the throat and tonsils, which is projected to become the most common form of head and neck cancer by 2030. Identifying the right patients with HPV-related cancers is a major challenge in reducing treatment intensity. A new study identifies a subclass of HPV+ head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). It shows that treatment depends on the tumor type. The data show two distinct subtypes of HPV+ HNSCC, each with its features and treatment responses. The researchers examined data from 104 HPV+ HNSCC tumors and two publically available sources to find gene expression patterns that might reliably distinguish distinct tumor types. Among the 22 modules tested, one accurately classified HPV+ HNSCC tumors based on a different gene expression pattern. The NFKB classifier accurately predicted a favorable result in patients treated in the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group trial E1308, even with low-dosage radiation. Barbara Burtness, a Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said, “This discovery opens new opportunities for treatment personalization, as we can now better understand the distinct requirements for tumor development in each subclass.” The findings have significant clinical implications. Clinicians treating HPV+ HNSCC are constantly looking for biomarkers that can be used to determine treatment intensity. The new [...]

Cancer research specialist believes uptake in HPV vaccine should be higher

Source: Author: Anton McNulty Parents are potentially harming their children's health by not signing them up to receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against cancer in both males and females. That is the opinion of Martin Clynes, Emeritus Professor of Biotechnology in Dublin City University, who has spent his life researching cancer cells and how they develop in the body. The HPV vaccine is currently available free of charge to all second level students to protect against cervical cancer in women as well as other cancers. The free school-based vaccination programme started in 2010 but uptake of the vaccine slowed around 2016 when some parents established lobby groups because of concerns raised about the vaccine's safety. The current uptake is at 76 percent for the first dose and 65 percent for the second dose. Last year the scheme was extended to women under 25 years of age following a campaign from Bernie and Larry Brennan, parents of the late Laura Brennan who campaigned for higher uptake of the HPV vaccine before her death from cervical cancer in 2019, aged 26. Despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) dismissing any long-term effects caused by the vaccine, Prof Clynes believes that the uptake is not as good as it should be. Speaking to The Mayo News ahead of a talk he gave on cancer as part of the Féile Chill Damhnait festival on Achill last Wednesday evening, Prof Clynes said parents should get their children to take the vaccine. Scare stories “I [...]

Meet the ‘Young Tongues’— including suburban mom, 48, part of shocking tongue cancer diagnosis boom

Source: Author: Danielle Cinone Understanding Head & Neck Cancers Tongue cancer is on the rise among young people in the United States, according to a recent Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program analysis, and among those a diagnosed were a 48-year-old mom from Connecticut and a 22-year-old from England, both who are part of the “Young Tongues” group. Dr. Diana Kirke, an otolaryngologist at Mount Sinai Hospital who recently presented an analysis on “geographic trends in oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma among young individuals,” told, “since 2010, there seems to be a national shift to younger patients developing oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma. There is a very clear rise in patients that are non-smokers and non-drinkers.” Tongue cancer can be caused by a sexually-transmitted virus called HPV, and top experts suggest getting young adults vaccinated. “If I had any advice for you following a cancer diagnosis, it would be, first, to seek out multiple opinions as to the best care,” National Cancer Institute Chief of Surgery Steven Rosenberg told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “because finding a doctor who is up to the latest of information is important.” A recent Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program analysis has revealed an oral tongue cancer boom is underway in the United States. Included in this increased incidence is Susan Smith, a 48-year-old mom from Fairfield, Connecticut, who is part of the “Young Tongues” group. Smith didn’t receive her tongue cancer diagnosis until she saw a fourth doctor who [...]

HPV-related head and neck cancer may have two distinct subtypes

Source: Author: Brielle Benyon There may be two “intrinsically different subtypes” of HPV-positive head and neck cancer — one of which may be more likely to respond to radiation treatment, according to recent research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We're the first ones to describe these two subtypes,” study author, Dr. Wendell Yarbrough, Thomas J. Dark, distinguished professor of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, said in a press release. “Using this research, we can firmly identify two groups of patients and are able to associate their tumor subtype with treatment outcomes.” The researchers discovered a difference in outcomes between patients with high and low NF-kB activity. Of note, NF-kB is a biomarker that activates the expression of pro-inflammatory genes and plays a role in inflammasome (response to infection- or stress-related stimuli) regulation, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Tumors with high NF-kB activity were more responsive to radiation therapy potentially contributing to improved patient survival,” Yarbrough said. “We know that there's something about activating the NF-kB pathway that makes the tumors more sensitive to radiation therapy, which could explain how and why those patients are surviving better.” These findings, according to the researchers, may help determine which patients should undergo these aggressive treatments, and which patients might fare better with a different approach. HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is typically treated with a combination of high-dose radiation and chemotherapy, though this regimen [...]

High-risk sexual behavior alone may not increase risk for oropharyngeal cancer

Source: Author: Matthew Shinkle High-risk sexual behavior may not be the primary contributor to the development of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, according to data published in Cancers. Although patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma appear more likely to self-report having their first sexual intercourse before age 18 years, study findings did not show an association between high-risk sexual behavior and the disease, researchers wrote. “The consistent absence of high-risk sexual behavior in the overwhelming majority of HPV-driven oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas stands against the argument of a lowered frequency of HPV-driven oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in our cohort ... that would have lowered the chance to detect an impact on high-risk sexual behavior on the development of HPV-driven oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma,” Gunnar Wichmann, PhD, head of the ENT ResearchLab at University of Leipzig Medical Center, and colleagues wrote. Background and methodology Certain studies have provided evidence to establish a potential link between high-risk sexual behavior, the persistence of HPV DNA in saliva and the presence of oncogenic high-risk HPV subtypes in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Researchers conducted a case-control study of patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and propensity score-matched unaffected controls from a large population-based German cohort study. The investigators interviewed patients and provided them with questionnaires on main risk factors — including age, sex, tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption — as well as logging information regarding sexual behavior categories. The study included 329 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, of whom 317 patients answered [...]

Cancer experts warn about wave of HPV-related cancers in adults

Source: Author: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Experts are concerned about rapidly rising rates of HPV-related throat and mouth cancers, noting that if this trend continues they could quickly be among the most common forms of cancer in adults between ages 45 and 65. Recent estimates suggest that middle throat cancer (known medically as oropharyngeal cancer) may become one of the top three cancers among middle-aged men in the United States by 2045, and the most common form of cancer among elderly men in the next 10 years. According to Matthew Old, MD, a head and neck surgeon at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), this rise of middle throat cancers in this age group is due to the direct impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection before modern vaccines were introduced in 2006. HPV is a large group of viruses spread through skin-to-skin and oral contact that occurs during sexual activity. The virus spreads easily, and an estimated 98% of the population has been exposed to it. HPV can remain dormant for decades. High-risk strains of the virus have long been linked to increased risk of cervical cancer; however, data from the past decade shows high-risk HPV is also strongly linked to cancers of the head and neck (mouth, base of tongue and throat). In 2006, Gardasil introduced an HPV vaccine, which is administered in youth between the ages of 9 and [...]

Mayo Clinic Minute: Innovative technology to treat head and neck cancers

Source: Author: Deb Balzer, Mayo Clinic News Network In the U.S., HPV is linked to about 70% of throat and mouth cancers. And more than 70% of those cancers are diagnosed in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment for throat and mouth cancers, also referred to as oropharyngeal or head and neck cancers, depends on location and stage of the cancer as well as other factors. Dr. Phillip Pirgousis, a Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeon, says patients now have safer, less invasive surgical treatments for head and neck cancers available to them thanks to innovative technology. “The tonsils in the back of the throat and the lymph node tissue in the back of the tongue,” Pirgousis says. And cancers in these two locations can be a challenge. “Many of the challenges are often related to the location of the primary tumor because the throat and voice box area are very difficult to get access to,” he says. That’s where innovation with robotics allows for better tumor visualization, better lighting and better outcomes in terms of complete tumor removal. “We’re talking about big, open surgeries versus minimally invasive surgeries where we can access these difficult locations with making facial incisions,” he says. “And having less impact on breathing, speaking, swallowing and communicating. The surgical robot has improved the ability for us to not only completely remove tumors, but to remove them safely,” Pirgousis says. Transoral robotic surgery Transoral robotic surgery is a minimally invasive [...]

Go to Top