human papillomavirus

The YAP signal plays a crucial role in head-and-neck cancer onset

Source: www.eurekalert.org
Author: press release, Kobe University

Joint research between Kobe University and National Hospital Organization Kyushu Cancer Center has revealed that mice with mutations in the YAP signal pathway develop head-and-neck cancer over an extremely short period of time (world’s fastest cancer onset mouse model), indicating that this pathway plays a crucial role in the onset of these cancers. This discovery may shed light on the development of new drugs for head-and-neck cancer.

This research resulted from a collaboration between a research group led by Professor SUZUKI Akira and Associate Professor MAEHAMA Tomohiko at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, and Dr. MASUDA Muneyuki’s team at Kyushu Cancer Center.

These results were published in the American scientific journal ‘Science Advances‘ on March 18.

Main Points:
>Deletion of MOB1 (*1, which represses YAP) in mouse tongues causes strong activation of YAP (*2), leading to the early onset of cancer (in about 1 week).

>In humans, the expression of YAP increases during the development of dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions), prior to the onset of head-and-neck cancer. YAP continues to increase with the development and progression of cancer. This high YAP activation is linked to poor patient prognosis.

>The onset and progression of head-and-neck cancer in the mice in this study, and the proliferation of stem cells in this cancer in humans, are dependent on YAP.

>These results suggest that cancer develops when the YAP activation exceeds a threshold. YAP may play a fundamental role in head-and-neck cancer onset and progression. These conclusions represent a paradigm shift in the understanding of these cancers.

>The mouse model developed in this study can be used in research to develop new drugs for head-and-neck cancer and, in addition, provides a beneficial resource for cancer research in general.

>By inhibiting YAP, the development and progression of head-and-neck cancer can be suppressed. Thus, the YAP pathway provides a good target for head-and-neck cancer treatments.

Research Background

Head-and-neck cancer in humans
Head-and-neck cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world, affecting 600,000 people annually. In Japan there are around 22,500 new cases every year. This ‘head and neck’ includes the oral cavity and areas of the throat (pharynx and larynx). Among these, mouth cancers (especially tongue cancer) are the most prevalent.

It is understood that exposure to carcinogens, such as those found in cigarettes and alcohol, as well as mechanical irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth, tooth decay and improperly fitted dentures, are risk factors for the development of head-and-neck cancer.

In addition, 15% of head-and-neck cancer is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which in particular causes oropharynx cancer.

The prognosis for patients who are HPV-positive is relatively good. Conversely, prognosis is poor for HPV negative patients and in most cases, mutations are found in the tumor suppressor gene TP53 (p53). However, mutations in this gene alone are not sufficient to cause head-and-neck cancer. It has been thought that changes in other molecules are also necessary for cancer development, however these causes remain elusive.

From comprehensive cancer genome analyses, it is known that PTEN/P13K (46%), FAT1 (32%), EGFR (15%) gene mutations are also found in HPV-negative head-and-neck cancer. However, the genetic pathway of these molecules in relation to head-and-neck cancer development has not been sufficiently understood.

Mouse models of cancer
Up until now, research using mouse models of head-and-neck cancer has discovered that if both the p53 and Akt genes are mutated, 50% of mice will develop this type of cancer about 9 months after the mutation (the average mouse lifespan is 2 years).

The onset of cancer begins after many genetic mutations have accumulated (multistep carcinogenesis). Mice with a mutation in one important molecule usually develop cancer within 4 to 24 months (with the majority showing signs between 6 to 12 months).

The YAP pathway
The function of the transcriptional co-activator YAP is to turn ‘on’ the transcription of gene clusters related to cell growth. The LATS/MOB1 complex phosphorylates YAP, thereby excluding YAP from the nucleus, leading to the subsequent degradation of YAP proteins. In other words, MOB1 and LATS act as a ‘brake’ (tumor suppressor) to inhibit cell proliferation facilitated by YAP. It has been reported that in 8% of human head-and-neck cancer cases, the YAP gene is amplified and there is a connection between YAP activation, cancer progression and poor prognosis.

This research group produced mice with MOB1 deletion in their tongues (so that YAP would be intrinsically activated) in order to perform a detailed analysis in vivo of the role that the YAP pathway plays in head-and-neck cancer.

Research Methodology

Mice with MOB1 deletion exhibit rapid onset tongue cancer
This research group developed mice with MOB1 deletion in their tongues by applying the drug tamoxifen to their tongues and then modifying them genetically using the Cre-loxP system (*4).

Three days after applying tamoxifen, the amount of MOB1 had barely decreased, however by day 7, the vast majority of these proteins had disappeared. At this point, a third of the mice demonstrated rapid onset head-and-neck cancer (intraepithelial tongue cancer), with all mice developing the disease by day 14. The cancer had progressed in all mice by day 28 (invasive tongue cancer). The team succeeded in developing the world’s fastest mouse model of cancer onset. Both domestic and international patents for this model have been applied for.

This mouse model showed that head-and-neck cancer develops quickly (within a week) when the YAP pathway is strongly activated, suggesting that this pathway plays an extremely important role in head-and-neck cancer onset.

YAP activation and tumorigenic properties of the tongue epithelium in MOB1 deletion mice.
The epithelial cells (on the surface of the tongues) of MOB1 deletion mice exhibited the following properties characteristic of tumor development: increased cell proliferation and cell saturation density, impaired cell polarity, low levels of apoptosis (cell death), increase in undifferentiated cells, and chromosomal instability (characterized by increases in aneuploid cells (*5)), multipolar spindles (*6) and micronucleated cells). On a biochemical level, activation of YAP and a decrease in LATS proteins was evident due to MOB1 deletion.

The epithelial cells acquired the characteristics of tumor cells due to the YAP activation caused by the deletion of MOB1.

YAP activation in the stages of tongue cancer in humans
The development of human tongue cancer can be divided to the following stages; the normal stage, the dysplasia stage, the intraepithelial cancer stage (*8) and the invasive cancer stage (*9).

If we look at YAP activation across all these stages, we can see that YAP is enhanced in the dysplasia stage which proceeds the onset of cancer. YAP activation shows continued increase during the subsequent stages of cancer progression. In cases where YAP is highly activated, overall survival is decreased and the likelihood of cancer relapse is high.

In other words, YAP increases before the onset of cancer and continues to increase as the cancer develops and progresses. Accumulation of YAP is linked to poor patient prognosis.

Cancer formation is dependent on YAP when MOB1 is deleted
Invasive cancer occurred in MOB1 deletion mice. However, when both YAP and MOB1 are deleted from mice, cancer onset is halted at the dysplasia stage, showing that the onset of head-and-neck cancer is dependent on YAP (Figure 2).

Among current YAP pathway inhibitors, the SRC inhibitor Dasatinib (*10) was shown to be the most effective (SRC has been previously shown to activate YAP both directly and indirectly). Dasatinib was shown to prevent the onset of intraepithelial head-and-neck cancer in the MOB1 deletion mice. It also suppressed the development of invasive cancer in MOB1 deletion mice that had reached the intraepithelial head-and-neck cancer stage.

In human head-and-neck cancer stem cells, it is possible to suppress cell proliferation either by inhibiting YAP gene expression or by adding YAP inhibitors. Cisplatin, which is commonly used to treat head-and-neck cancer, is augmented when YAP is suppressed.

In mice, head-and-neck cancer onset and progression was suppressed when YAP was inhibited. In the same way, it was shown that in human tongue cancer stem cells, cell proliferation was also suppressed when YAP was inhibited.

Known genetic mutations in human head-and-neck cancer and YAP activation
Genetic mutations in p53, PTEN/PI3K, FAT1, and EGFR have been identified in HPV-negative head-and-neck cancer.

This research group showed that EGF signal activation and mutations in p53, PTEN and FAT1 each play a role in YAP activation. Furthermore, YAP activation gradually increases as these genetic mutations accumulate.

Normally, cancer takes time to develop as it is a multistep process. However, in this study, intraepithelial head-and-neck cancer rapidly developed just from highly strengthening YAP activation.

In conclusion, this study raises the possibility that the following process for head-and-neck cancer development takes place: A. Cancer develops when the YAP activation exceeds a threshold due to the accumulation of genetic mutations in p53, PTEN/PI3K, FAT1 and EGFR (Figure 3). B. Subsequently, YAP continues to accumulate after cancer has developed, resulting in cancer progression.

Conclusion and Further Developments
YAP is frequently activated in cancer cells although genetic mutations in the YAP pathway are not frequently found. It is thought that this is why the importance of the YAP pathway in the onset of head-and-neck cancer was unclear until now.

1. YAP activation levels are high before the onset of head-and-neck cancer in humans.
2. YAP is further activated as the cancer progresses.
3. The high frequency of mutations in p53, PTEN/PI3K, FAT1 and EGFR all activate YAP.
4. The accumulation of these molecular mutations gradually leads to high YAP activation:
4a. The accumulation of genetic mutations in p53, PTEN/PI3K, FAT1 and EGFR cause YAP to reach its threshold, culminating the onset of cancer.
4b. YAP continues to accumulate after the cancer onset, resulting in further cancer progression.

It is necessary to consider YAP as a basis for head-and-neck cancer onset and progression. This represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of these cancers.

In addition, it has also been shown that risk factors for head-and-neck cancer, such as cigarette smoking, mechanical irritation of mucous membranes and HPV infection, also play a part in YAP activation.

The mouse model in this study: 1. Is the fastest mouse model in the world for showing the natural onset of cancer. 2. Can be used to visualize cancer onset and progression. 3. Allows cancers to be developed naturally at the same time. 4. Allows cancer onset and progression to be analyzed in mice immediately after birth, allowing drug tests to be conducted in a shorter period of time and in small quantities. The results suggest that this mouse model would be ideal, not only for research into developing new treatments for head-and-neck cancer, but also for cancer research in general.

It is expected that the YAP pathway will provide a good target for drugs used in the treatment of head-and-neck cancer because inhibiting YAP not only suppresses the cancer onset but can also prevent its progression.

Researchers from all over the world, including this research group, are currently trying to find new drugs that target the YAP pathway. We have shown one factor that is effective against head-and-neck cancer. It is also expected that the mouse model will become an indispensable tool for evaluating their results and for head-and-neck cancer research.

Glossary
1. MOB1 (Mps One Binder 1): MOB1 is necessary for activating the LATS kinase and acts as a brake (tumor suppressor) on downstream, negatively-controlled YAP. Deletion of MOB1 exacerbates cell proliferation and leads to cancer.
2. YAP (Yes-associated Protein): YAP is a transcriptional coactivator. It forms a complex with multiple transcription factors inside the nucleus to control the expression of various genes. YAP is phosphorylated by the LATS kinase, causing YAP to be excluded from the nucleus and inactivated.
3. Human Papillomavirus (HPV): A type of papillomavirus, there are over a hundred genotypes or varieties of HPV. The virus is linked to genital warts, head-and-neck cancer and cervical cancer.
4. Cre-loxP system: A genetic modification system using Cre recombinase, which catalyze DNA recombination between two loxP sites (a 34-base pair nucleotide sequence). If Cre is expressed in a cell where chromosomal DNA has been artificially inserted into two loxP sites, the intervening DNA segment is deleted.
5. Aneuploid Cells: contain an abnormal number of individual chromosomes. This does not include a difference of one or more complete sets of chromosomes.
6. Multipolar Spindle: Spindles are formed during cell division to separate chromosomes between daughter cells. In normal cells, a pair of centrosomes forms prior to cell division to organize proteins called microtubules into a spindle between the two centrosomes. However, in cancer cells there are more than two centrosomes, and so-called multipolar spindles form. This can cause chromosomal instability and lead to the formation of aneuploid cells because the chromosomes were not correctly allocated at the time of cell division.
7. Dysplasia: The presence of cells of an abnormal type within a tissue. In medical diagnosis, the presence of abnormal-looking cells (dysplasia) observed under a microscope can signify an increased chance of a patient developing cancer (pre-cancerous symptoms).
8. Intraepithelial cancer: This is where cancer cells are found within the intraepithelial layer of cells which form on an organ’s surface. At this point, cancer cells have not been able to penetrate the basement membrane and have not spread deeply. Related terms include Carcinoma in Situ (CIS), intraepithelial tumor and intraepithelial neoplasia.
9. Invasive cancer: is where cancer cells penetrate the basement membrane, a thin membrane separating them from other tissues. From there, cancer can spread to the surrounding area.
10. Dasatinib: a chemotherapy drug that inhibits the SRC kinase family, which can cause malignant transformation in cells. SRC is both directly and indirectly connected to YAP activation, so dasatinib can also inhibit YAP. It is currently used to treat leukemia but is not prescribed for head-and-neck cancer treatment.

Acknowledgements:
This research was made possible primarily through funding to the project ‘The development of cancer treatment methods targeting cancer suppression genes.’ (Lead researcher: Suzuki Akira) as part of the Japanese Agency for Medical Research and Development’s Project for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Evolution (AMED P-CREATE).

March, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

Surveillance of ctDNA in HPV-positive head and neck cancers may predict recurrence

Source: www.targetedonc.com
Author: Nichole Tucker

The detection of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in human papillomavirus (HPV) with an experimental blood test has been associated with high positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for identifying disease recurrence in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer, according to a press release from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.1

“The major utility of this test is it’s going to improve our ability to monitor patients after they complete treatment,” said Bhisham Chera, MD, associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. “Currently, our methods to assess whether the cancer has recurred are invasive, expensive and not always accurate.”

In a prospective biomarker clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, investigators obtained 1006 blood samples for their analysis, 999 of which were evaluable for plasma circulating tumor human papillomavirus DNA (ctHPVDNA). The goal was to determine if surveillance of ctHPVDNA can facilitate earlier detection of recurrence compared with normal clinical follow-up.2

Patients were followed for a median of 23.7 months (range, 6.1-54.7 months), and out of 115 patients, 13% developed disease recurrence (n = 15). Of these recurrences, 1 was local only, 1 was regional only, 10 were distant only, 1 was local and distant, and the remaining 2 were regional and distant. Following treatment, 87 patients had undetectable ctHPVDNA, and none developed recurrence (95% CI, 96%-100%). The development of a positive ctHPVDNA occurred in 28 patients during post-treatment surveillance.

The median time to abnormal ctHPVDNA signal was 12.3 months after complete chemoradiotherapy (CRT; range, 2.6-29.1 months). Sixteen patients had 2 consecutive positive ctHPVDNA results, and 15 of those patients developed biopsy-proven recurrence. The 2 ctHPVDNA blood tests that were consecutively positive had a PPV of 54% (95% CI, 0.339-0.725). A 3.9-month median lead time between ctHPVDNA positivity and biopsy-proven recurrence was observed (range, 0.37-12.9). the actuarial 2-year response-free survival (RFS) rate was 30% in patients who had an abnormal blood test during post-treatment surveillance compared with 100% among the remaining participants (P <.001).

In the study, CRT included cetuximab 250 mg/m2, carboplatin AUC 1.5, and paclitaxel 45 mg/m2. Patients received intravenous chemotherapy during intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment, which was given weekly. There were 6 doses of chemotherapy in total.

The secondary end points of the study were local control rate, regional control rate, local-regional control rate, distant metastasis-free survival, OS, head and neck quality of life assessments, and speech and swallowing function.

Patients aged 18 years and older were eligible to enroll if they had T0-3, N0 to N2c, M0 squamous head and neck cancer, HPV and p16 positivity, radiologically confirmed hematogenous metastasis within 12 weeks before treatment, and ECOG performance status of 0 to 1, and adequate bone marrow, renal, and hepatic function. Individuals with prior history of radiation to the head and neck, head and neck cancer, those with unresectable disease, severe comorbidity, or known human immunodeficiency virus, or those taking disease-modifying rheumatoid drugs were excluded from the study.

Based on this research the investigators reported a 99% accuracy in confirming whether or not patients remained recurrence-free with their screening method, compared with other methods. For patients who had 2 HPV-positive blood tests, the accuracy was said to be 94%.1

“With this new technology, it offers a noninvasive way to accurately monitor patients for cancer recurrence,” Chera said. “In the long run, blood-based surveillance could be more effective, and possibly help us to detect cancer sooner.”

References
1. Study finds blood test accurately tracks HPV-linked head and neck cancer [news release]. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; February 4, 2020. https://bit.ly/2tzlw7x. Accessed February 6, 2020.
2. Chera BS, Kumar S, Shen C, et al. Plasma circulating tumor HPV DNA for the surveillance of cancer recurrence in HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.01598.

February, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

What parents need to know about the HPV vaccine

Source: www.news-medical.net
Author: University of Chicago Medical Center, reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)

The vaccine that prevents infection from human papillomavirus (HPV) is nothing short of a medical marvel. “It’s one of the most effective vaccines we have against any disease or infection. And it prevents cancer,” said Andrea Loberg, MD, clinical associate of obstetrics and gynecology.

Pre-teens and teens who are vaccinated against HPV can be spared some of the deadliest, most disfiguring and hard-to-treat cancers-;those of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, mouth and throat. Over 90% of cancers caused by HPV can be prevented-;29,000 cases of cancer per year-;with the HPV vaccine.

Concerns about sexual promiscuity
To some parents, however, the HPV vaccine may be an uncomfortable reminder that their child will be moving into adulthood and may choose to express his or her sexuality. HPV is transmitted by oral, vaginal and anal sex and other intimate skin-to-skin contact, and it is extremely prevalent; about 80% of people will be exposed to the virus in their lifetime.

Condoms reduce but don’t eliminate the risk of HPV infections because the virus lives in both oral and genital tissues. Condoms do not cover the entire genital area of either gender. Nor are same-sex female partners protected from contracting the virus, which often causes no symptoms until precancerous lesions or cancer show up years later. “It’s hard for parents to think about our kids becoming sexually active, but we also want them to have fulfilling lives,” said Truehart, whose own two teenagers have received the HPV vaccine. “We want to make sure they are protected before they start having sex.”

The recommended age for receiving the HPV vaccine is 11 or 12, when children are also scheduled to receive the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and the meningitis vaccine. But the two-dose vaccine-;the second dose is given six to 12 months after the first-;can be given to children as young as nine. Teens older than 15 and men and women need three doses of the vaccine to develop an immunity against HPV.

“Pre-teens have a more robust response to the vaccine and generate enough antibodies to protect against HPV after two immunizations, whereas older kids and adults need three doses to get the same immune response,” said Truehart. Another reason not to delay getting the HPV vaccine: an older teen may not want to wait six months or more to be fully immunized against HPV once he or she is on the verge of becoming sexually active. “It’s important for kids to be immunized before they are exposed to HPV,” Truehart said.

Not just for girls
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the HPV vaccine in 2006, it was recommended for girls and women to protect against cervical cancer. Three years later, the vaccine was approved for boys and men, based on evidence that males are also susceptible to HPV-related cancers. “Cancers caused by HPV affect women and men in equal numbers,” said Loberg. “Each year, there are approximately 10,800 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in women, and 9,600 cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed in men.” And while there is a screening test for cervical cancer to catch and treat it early, there are no such screening tests for any of the other HPV-related cancers. And because most HPV infections are asymptomatic, people may be unwittingly transmitting the infection to their sexual partners.

HPV also causes genital warts which, although not harmful in most people, can be embarrassing and unsightly. In some cases, however, genital warts can be extremely painful and may even require surgery to remove them. For people with autoimmune disorders or who take medications that compromise their immune system, genital warts can be very difficult to manage, said Loberg. Out of more than 150 strains of HPV, the vaccine targets the most prevalent and harmful ones: two strains that cause genital warts and seven strains that cause various types of cancer.

No serious side effects
Despite HPV being the most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV-related cancers are relatively uncommon because in about 90% of people exposed to HPV, their immune systems clear the virus from their bodies before it causes cancer or precancer. “But we don’t know which individuals will develop a persistent infection, so why take that gamble when cancer can be the consequence?” said Loberg.

When parents ask whether the HPV vaccine is safe, Loberg’s ready answer is that “it’s incredibly safe.” More than 270 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed worldwide since 2006, and there have been no serious side effects. One study that examined data from more than 56 million doses of HPV vaccine administered in the U.S. found that some girls became dizzy or fainted 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine. “That is the only side effect that we see,” other than mild side effects typical of other vaccines, such as fever, headache, and pain and redness at the injection site, said Loberg.

Pediatricians and primary care providers should be recommending the HPV vaccine for children, but if not, parents should bring it up.

“There is absolutely no downside to getting the HPV vaccine, and the upside is preventing your child from getting a deadly or disfiguring cancer,” she said.

January, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

How Marijuana Accelerates Growth of HPV-related Head and Neck Cancer Identified

University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers have identified the molecular mechanism activated by the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the ingredient that causes people to feel the euphoria or “high” associated with cannabis — in the bloodstream that accelerates cancer growth in patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

“HPV-related head and neck cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. While at the same time, exposure to marijuana is accelerating. This is a huge public health problem,” said Joseph A. Califano III, MD, senior author and professor and vice chief of the Division of Otolaryngology in the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. These cancers begin in the cells that line the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat. Approximately 30 percent of cases of this disease are related to HPV infection, and it is these cases, in particular that are on the rise. Califano suggested increased marijuana use may be a driving factor.

Previous studies have linked daily marijuana exposure to an increased prevalence of HPV-related throat cancer. However, a mechanism linking cannabis exposure to increased growth of the cancer was unknown.

Reporting in the January 13, 2020 online edition of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers outline how the presence of THC in the bloodstream activates the p38 MAPK pathway, which controls programed cell death called apoptosis. When activated, p38 MAPK prevents apoptosis from occurring, thus allowing cancer cells to grow uncontrollably.

Working with Chao Liu, MD, visiting scientist at UC San Diego and a physician at China’s Central South University, and other colleagues, Califano and team used animal and human cell lines to show that THC turns p38 MAPK on and were able to stop the growth of HPV-positive head and neck cancer by turning off the pathway.

The team then analyzed blood samples from patients with HPV-related throat cancer who had their genomes comprehensively mapped to define activated gene pathways. Similar to the cell lines, the blood samples showed p38 MAPK activation and loss of apoptosis in tumors from patients with THC in their blood.

The authors said studies and public opinion suggestions that THC and other cannabis products have cancer-fighting properties need additional, more critical evaluation. Past studies showing anticancer effects of THC and other cannabinoids often used levels of THC higher than those found with recreational use, but doses used recreationally clearly activate a cancer-causing pathway, said Califano.

“We now have convincing scientific evidence that daily marijuana use can drive tumor growth in HPV-related head and neck cancer,” said Califano. “Marijuana and other cannabis products are often considered benign, but it is important to note that all drugs that have benefits can also have drawbacks. This is a cautionary tale.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV infections are responsible for approximately 35,000 new cancer diagnoses each year in the United States. Infection is so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Most clear up on their own, without the person ever knowing they’ve had it.

Several vaccines are available that can prevent the majority of HPV-related cancers. The vaccines work best when they are given before a person is exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends vaccinating boys and girls age 11 to 12 years old but it can be administered as early as age 9.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 15 percent of youth 12 to 17 years old and 47 percent of adults age 26 and older have used or tried marijuana.

Together, a low HPV vaccination rate and an increase in marijuana use among youth has the makings of a storm, said Califano, physician-in-chief and director of the Head and Neck Cancer Center at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

Moores Cancer Center is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country and the only such center in San Diego County.

Treatment options for patients with early- or late-stage head and neck cancers include minimally invasive surgery, reconstruction and rehabilitation, proton therapy and other radiation therapy, innovative clinical trials and targeted therapy, including immunotherapy.

The Head and Neck Cancer Center provides comprehensive care that includes counseling, education and support groups, nutrition, dental rehabilitation, speech and language therapy and social workers to help patients through every step of the process beginning with diagnosis to support lifelong wellness.

Califano and team are now looking at whether cannabidiol, or CBD, has a similar effect to THC. CBD is another major chemical compound found in marijuana, but does not produce the “high” and is now commonly used in various over-the-counter products, such as lotions, ointments and edibles.

In addition, the team is investigating whether p38 MAPK can be targeted with drugs to stop HPV-related head and neck cancer from growing.

Co-authors include: Chao Liu, Sayed Sadat, Koji Ebisumoto, Akihiro Sakai, Bharat Panuganti, Shuling Ren, Yusuke Goto, Sunny Haft, Takahito Fukusumi, Mizuo Ando, Yuki Saito, Pablo Tamayo, Huwate Yeerna, William Kim, Jacqueline Hubbard, Andrew Sharabi and J. Silvio Gutkind from UC San Diego; and Theresa Guo from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and National Institute of Health (R01 DE023347, U01CA217885, R01HG009285, R01CA121941 and P30CA023100).

January, 2020|Oral Cancer News|

Late stage head and neck cancer in the U.S. sees increasing incidence

Source: www.cancernetwork.com
Author: Hannah Slater

A study released in Cancer indicates that there is an increasing incidence of late stage head and neck cancer (HNC) in the U.S., mostly due to an increasing incidence of oropharyngeal cancer, most likely due to HPV-related disease in patients diagnosed at stage IVC.1

Blacks, males, those who are underinsured or uninsured, and those who are unmarried tend to fare worse than others. The presented research highlights the need for continuous public health efforts toward the early detection of HNC.

In this cohort of 57,118 patients with stage IV HNC, the age-adjusted rates for stage IV HNC significantly increased by 26.1% (6.11 per 100,000 person-years in 2004 to 7.70 per 100,000 person-years in 2015). Despite a decreasing overall incidence of stage IV HNC in black patients (adjusted OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.22-1.34), they along with males (adjusted OR, 3.95; 95% CI, 3.80-4.11) had significantly increased risks of being diagnosed with late-stage HNC.

“In the absence of a mortality benefit for asymptomatic mass screenings, as per the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force oral cancer screening guideline, it is critical that there is sustained public awareness and education regarding the early detection of HNC, and prevention through cancer risk mitigation practices,” the researchers wrote.

Although black males had the highest risk of being diagnosed, the most significant change in annual incidence patterns was driven by white males (annual percent changes, 3.13; P < .01). A significant increase in incidence occurred in the population >50 years, with males tending to be younger at the time of diagnosis than females.

Of all primary tumor sites, the oropharynx was the most likely site for a late-stage diagnosis. The incidence of oropharyngeal cancer has increased dramatically in the U.S. within the last 40 years and is predominantly experienced by white males. Approximately 75% of cases of oropharyngeal cancer are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), and these tumors often present with small primary tumors and larger cystic regional lymph node metastases as the first notable symptom.

Although patients with oropharyngeal cancer typically have a better prognosis, they also remain at risk of having positive lymph nodes and developing distant metastasis. Research indicated that the oropharynx, an HPV-related site, was the only site to experience a significant increase in the incidence of metastatic stage IV disease.

“If rates of true late-stage HNC continue to rise, it remains paramount to identify those patients who are at risk of potentially worse prognoses when HPV status is unknown,” the researchers wrote.

Stage IV was defined using the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) sixth edition stage classification as stages IVA, IVB, IVC, and IV not otherwise specified. With recent changes in AJCC staging, future studies are warranted to describe incidence trends based on new staging guidelines.

According to the CDC, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives. Oropharyngeal cancers have traditionally been caused by tobacco and alcohol; however recent studies have suggested that about 70% of cancers of the oropharynx may be linked to HPV.2

References:
1. Thompson-Harvey A, Yetukuri M, Hansen AR, et al. Rising Incidence of Late-Stage Head and Neck Cancer in the United States. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.32583.
2. CDC. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Statistics. CDC website. cdc.gov/std/hpv/stats.htm. Published January 4, 2017. Accessed November 21, 2019.

November, 2019|Oral Cancer News|

Despite only a 50% HPV vaccination rate in adolescents, cervical precancer incidence rates drop

Source: www.targetedonc.com
Author: Tony Berberabe, MPH

Although a vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is widely available, an average of 34,800 HPV-associated cancers attributable to the virus, including cervical, vaginal, vulva, penile, anal, and oropharynx were reported in the United States from 2012 through 2016, according to data published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.1 The estimated number of cancers attributable to HPV types targeted by the 9-valent HPV vaccine (9vHPV) is also rising. These recent increases are due in part to an aging and growing population and increases in oropharyngeal, anal, and vulvar cancers, lead author Virginia Senkomago, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist and senior service fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, said in an email.

Although HPV vaccination is an important component of cancer prevention, only about 50% of adolescents have received the vaccine. Of cancer cases attributable to the HPV types targeted by the vaccine, 19,000 (59%) occurred in female patients and 13,100 (41%) occurred in male patients.

But there is some good news.

Senkomago said HPV infections and cervical precancers have dropped significantly since the vaccine was introduced. Infections with HPV types have dropped 86% among teenage girls. Among vaccinated women aged 20 to 24 years, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer dropped by 40%. The vaccination is recommended through age 26 for all individuals, especially for those who were not vaccinated when they were younger. The vaccine is not recommended for individuals older than 26 years, but some adults between 27 and 45 years may decide to get the HPV vaccine based on a discussion with their clinician. HPV vaccination provides less benefit to adults in this age range, as more have already been exposed to HPV, said Senkomago.

Further, it is anticipated that compliance should increase because the original 3 doses every 2 months now seems to be getting replaced by 2 doses with similar efficacy rates.

Previous annual estimates of cancers attributable to the types targeted by 9vHPV were 28,500 (2008-2012),2 30,000 (2010-2014),3 and 31,200 (2011-2015).4

“HPV is a distinct subset of head and neck cancers. It now exceeds cervical cancer as a major health burden in the [United States] because, in part, there’s no effective screening strategy,” said Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and co–physician editor in chief of Targeted Therapies in Oncology. A number of challenges exist in the treatment of patients with HPV-positive head and neck cancer, Ferris said. These include lack of a screening tool and relatively low adherence to vaccination. The disease also has a long latency period,5 adding to the difficulty in treatment.

“These patients don’t have traditional risk factors,” Ferris continued. “They may just present to their doctor with a lump in the neck area with very few symptoms. They usually have no history of tobacco use or exposure history, so they can be overlooked for weeks and months before a needle biopsy is ordered. Needle biopsy can be diagnostic.”

Of the 32,100 HPV cancer types, those with the highest incidence were oropharyngeal and the lowest was vaginal (FIGURE 1), the report said.1

“We are striving to vaccinate as many people as possible. Right now our goals are identifying groups with the lower rates, such as people who live in rural areas, and working to remove unique barriers to vaccination they may face,” Senkomago said.

Senkomago added that the most surprising finding was that oropharyngeal cancer was the most common cancer attributable to HPV types targeted by 9vHPV in most states, except in Texas, where cervical cancer was most common, and in Alaska, New Mexico, New York, and Washington DC, where estimates of oropharyngeal and cervical cancers attributable to the 9vHPV-targeted types were the same (FIGURE 2).1

In particular, Senkomago said, these findings can inform community oncologists of the burden of HPV-associated cancers, especially in light of the increase of cases of oropharyngeal, anal, and vulvar cancers. Increasing awareness of the burden of the 7 HPV-associated cancers, individually and as a group, is a powerful prevention tool. Oncologists can advocate for strategies such as screening and HPV vaccination. In addition, community oncologists can work together with cancer survivors to engage communities to vaccinate and get screened as appropriate, she said.

Ferris cautioned against changing treatment algorithms too soon, especially before prospective clinical trials result are fully analyzed. “We need specific clinical trials before we can reduce the intensity of therapy because we don’t want to impair the very good survival, which can be 80% to 90%, in these patients and put that at risk,” he said. “We don’t want to jeopardize that strong survival rate. Those prospective clinical trials are ongoing, and those results should be reported out intensively in 2020, 2021, and beyond.”

Although the report focused on only the 9vHPV vaccine, a quadrivalent vaccine is also available. Investigators are evaluating whether any shift in the subtypes of HPV that cause cervical or head and neck cancer has been detected with the implementation of the quadrivalent vaccine. Senkomago said scientists continue to evaluate HPV types before and after vaccine introduction in population-based studies. To date, they have not found any evidence that type replacement is occurring.6

References:
1. Senkomago V, Henley J, Thomas CC, Mix JM, Markowitz LE, Saraiya M. Human papillomavirus—attributable cancers—United States, 2012-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(33):724-728. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6833a3.
2. Viens LJ, Henley SJ, Watson M, et al. Human papillomavirus–associated cancers — United States, 2008–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65(26):661-666. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6526a1
3. Cancers associated with human papillomavirus, United States—2010–2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. cdc.gov/cancer/uscs/about/data-briefs/no1-hpv-assoc-cancers-UnitedStates-2010-2014.htm. Accessed September 12, 2019.
4. Cancers associated with human papillomavirus, United States—2011–2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. cdc.gov/cancer/uscs/about/data-briefs/no4-hpv-assoc-cancers-UnitedStates-2011-2015.htm. Accessed September 12, 2019.
5. Human papillomavirus (HPV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. cdc.gov/hpv/parents/cancer.html. Accessed September 10, 2019.
6. Mesher D, Soldan K, Lehtinen M, et al. Population-level effects of human papillomavirus vaccination programs on infections with nonvaccine genotypes. Emerg Infect Dis. 2016;22(10):1732-1740. doi: 10.3201/eid2210.160675.

November, 2019|Oral Cancer News|

Oral sex blamed for rise of mouth cancer in UK

Source: www.medicaldaily.com
Author: Darwin Malicdem

The number of people diagnosed with mouth cancer has significantly increased by 135 percent over the past 20 years in the United Kingdom. Experts believe the increase comes amid the growing number of Brits engaging in oral sex.

Nonprofit Oral Health Foundation (OHF) issued a report showing oral cancer rates “have more than doubled in a generation” across the U.K. In 2018 alone, seven people died every day from the disease in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“While most cancers are on the decrease, cases of mouth cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate,” Nigel Carter, chief executive of the OHF, told the Daily Mail. “It changes how somebody speaks, it makes eating and drinking more difficult, and often changes a person’s physical appearance.”

The foundation said the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) caused 73 percent of the oropharyngeal mouth cancers. But drinking alcohol also contributed to the higher rates of the disease in the U.K.

OHF said 33 percent of mouth cancer diagnoses over the past decades were linked to consumption of alcoholic beverages. Smoking was associated with 17 percent of the cases.

The foundation launched Mouth Cancer Action Month in early November that aims to spread awareness of mouth cancer and its signs and symptoms.

“We want everyone to be more mouth aware during this year’s campaign,” Carter said in a press release. “This means being able to identify the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, understand what is more likely to put us at greater risk, and importantly, know where to go if you spot anything out of the ordinary.”

He added early diagnosis has been effective to prevent deaths in the past years. Philip Lewis, of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, also highlighted that public awareness programs and self examination would help address the health issue.

In the U.S., the number of mouth cancer is also increasing. The Oral Cancer Foundation reported that nearly 54,000 Americans are being diagnosed with the disease every year.

Mouth cancer kills one person per hour in the country, leading to 13,500 deaths every year.

November, 2019|Oral Cancer News|

Researchers: Favorable survival, fewer side effects after reduced therapy for HPV-linked head and neck cancer

Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers reported that reducing the intensity of radiation treatment for patients with human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancer produced a promising two-year progression-free survival rate and resulted in fewer side effects.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, were drawn from a phase II clinical trial that included 114 patients with HPV-linked head and neck cancer and a limited smoking history. The researchers reported that they saw a similar progression free survival rate, and that patients experienced fewer long-term side effects in the study compared with patients who received standard intensity treatment in previous studies.

“A simple de-intensification strategy of reducing radiation and chemotherapy appears to be as effective at cancer control as the standard seven-week regimen,” said UNC Lineberger’s Bhishamjit S. Chera, MD, associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. “Furthermore, there were fewer toxicities.”

For the trial, patients received six weeks of treatment, including a reduced intensity of radiation therapy of 60 Gray with weekly low-dose chemotherapy of cisplatin. The standard of care regimen is seven weeks of treatment 70 Gray and high-dose chemotherapy.

The main outcome that the researchers were studying was two-year progression-free survival. On the reduced regimen, researchers found that the two-year progression free survival was 86 percent, compared to a two-year progression free survival reported from other studies using standard treatment doses of 87 percent.

Chera said the major long-term side effects of radiation treatment are related to swallowing and dry mouth. Previous studies have shown the majority of patients treated with standard intensity chemoradiotherapy require a temporary feeding tube and some have significant long-term swallowing dysfunction.

Notably, in this study, patients reported that their swallowing returned to baseline after de-intensified treatment, and only 34 percent required a temporary feeding tube.

The results need to be validated in larger, randomized clinical trials, Chera said, and studies are ongoing to investigate this.

He added that while this study included patients with a limited smoking history, other current studies include patients with more extensive smoking histories.

Chera said that researchers want to continue to improve two-year progression free response rates while achieving better side effect results. They want to do that by identifying additional biomarkers to drive precision medicine strategies.

Although traditional clinical risk help clinicians predict outcomes and select patients for clinical trials of de-intensified treatments, Chera said that these risk factors are imprecise. He and his colleagues are currently evaluating additional novel biomarkers that they believe could be used to better predict a patient’s prognosis and outline a course of treatment.

Specifically, they have shown in a previous study how levels of circulating HPV DNA in the blood, and how quickly patients clear this from the blood, were linked to outcomes.

September, 2019|Oral Cancer News|

HPV ‘Herd Immunity’ Is on the Rise Among Adults

Source: www.webmd.com
Author: Dennis Thompson, HealthDay Reporter

The United States could be approaching a state of herd immunity against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus linked to several cancers.

Oral HPV infections declined by 37% among unvaccinated 18- to 59-year-old men between 2009 and 2016, according to a Sept. 10 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That included a decline in infections of HPV16, the strain found in more than 9 out of 10 cases of head and neck cancer related to the virus, said senior researcher Dr. Maura Gillison, a professor of medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Researchers say men are benefitting from increased HPV vaccination rates among American women, who receive the vaccine to prevent virus-caused cervical cancer.

“In contrast to cervical cancers, we have no means by which to screen for HPV-positive head and neck cancers,” Gillison said. “The vaccine is our best hope for prevention.”

HPV vaccination has been recommended for girls since 2006 and for boys since 2011. The virus has been linked to cancers of the cervix, penis, anus, mouth and throat.

Vaccination rates among boys and girls are steadily rising, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About half of teens were up to date on the HPV vaccine in 2017, and two-thirds of 13- to 17-year-olds had received the first dose to start the series. On average, the percentage of teens who started the HPV vaccine series rose by 5 percentage points each year between 2013 and 2017, the CDC says.

“At least 75% vaccine coverage of boys and girls would be necessary to eradicate HPV16, the HPV type that is most likely to lead to cancer development,” Gillison said.

But vaccination rates have lagged among males.

To see if males are receiving some protection from greater HVP vaccination among females, Gillison and her colleagues reviewed U.S. federal health survey data gathered between 2009 and 2016.

They found that by 2016, about 15% of women and 6% of men had received the vaccine.

Despite lower vaccination rates among males, oral HPV infections declined from 2.7% to 1.6% in men between 2009 and 2016.

Interestingly, prevention of oral HPV infections and the head and neck cancers they cause is not listed as a reason to get the vaccine, Gillison said. No clinical trials have been undertaken to show that the HPV vaccine could prevent such cancers.

The decrease in HPV infections among the unvaccinated men is consistent with a decline in genital HPV infections among unvaccinated women between 2004 and 2014, the researchers noted.

“This study demonstrates that even with suboptimal uptake of the HPV vaccine, important gains are being made in herd immunity against oral HPV types included in the vaccine,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. He was not involved with the study.

“Oral HPV infection is a major factor in the development of head and neck cancer, and this vaccine has the potential to be game-changing as more individuals are vaccinated,” Adalja said.

HPV-positive head and neck cancers are the most rapidly rising cancers in the United States among men under age 60, Gillison said.

She called on doctors to use the data from this and other studies to promote HPV vaccination.

“I can guarantee that all of my patients diagnosed with HPV-positive head and neck cancer would exchange two or three shots for three months of toxic cancer therapy in a heartbeat,” she said.

“The HPV vaccine, together with the hepatitis B vaccine, are the two most important advances in the history of cancer prevention, period,” Gillison concluded.

September, 2019|Oral Cancer News|

Which HPV vaccination schedule is best: 1, 2 or 3 doses?

Source: www.precisionvaccinations.com
Author: Don Ward Hackett

A new cervical cancer prevention study of women first offered Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine found that 1-dose of quadrivalent HPV vaccine was as effective as 3-doses at preventing histologically confirmed, high–grade cervical lesions.

This Australian study’s finding published online on July 15, 2019, supports the hypothesis that the 1-dose HPV vaccination schedule may be a viable strategy when working towards the global elimination of cervical cancer.

These researchers said ‘If one dose could prevent precancerous cervical lesions, then global cervical cancer prevention would be greatly facilitated.’

This is an important goal since about 90 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. This study included 250,648 women in Australia with 19.5 percent unvaccinated, 69.8 percent had received 3-doses, 7.3 percent 2-doses, and 3.4 percent just 1-dose of the HPV vaccine.

This study’s limitations include some degree of under–linkage and inaccurate data linkage because Australia does not have a unique national identifier, which impacts the classifications of vaccinated women as unvaccinated.

Additionally, these researchers said ‘we believe that these data support decision-makers to consider how a 1-dose HPV vaccination schedule, or a planned schedule with a 3–5 year interval between doses, could reduce vaccine demand globally, which currently exceeds vaccine supply.’

But the Gardasil 9 vaccine manufacturer appears to be resolving this supply/demand imbalance. During July 2019, Merck said it is spending $1.68 billion, opening 2 new Gardasil production plants, and adding 525 related jobs.

To clarify the Gardasil 9 vaccine dosing schedule, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publish the following information:

Who should still receive a 3-dose schedule?
The CDC continues to recommend a 3-dose schedule for persons starting the HPV vaccination series on or after the 15th birthday, and for persons with certain immunocompromising conditions. The 2nd vaccine dose should be given 1–2 months after the 1st dose, and the 3rd dose, should be given 6 months after the first dose.

Who should receive just 2-doses?
Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for all boys and girls at ages 11-12; the vaccine can be given as early as age 9. If you wait until they’re older, they may need three doses instead of two.

In the USA, HPV vaccines have been licensed for use among women since 2006 and among men since 2010.

HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with some type of HPV, says the CDC. About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected each year. HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.

Cervical cancer is the only type of HPV cancer with a recommended screening test. The other types of HPV cancer may not be detected until they cause health problems. HPV vaccination helps prevent these cancers by preventing infections that cause these cancers, says the CDC. HPV vaccines, like any medicine, can cause side effects, which you are encouraged to report to the CDC or a healthcare provider.

August, 2019|Oral Cancer News|