mouth cancer

For the first time in nearly four decades, smokeless tobacco has no hand in sponsoring the College National Finals Rodeo

Source: Billings Gazette

CASPER, Wyo. — The once steadfast coupling of chewing tobacco and the collegiate cowboy extravaganza is no more. There are no Copenhagen banners, there are no Skoal flags. There are no free samples.

For the first time in nearly four decades, smokeless tobacco has no hand in sponsoring the College National Finals Rodeo.

“It’s a tremendous and tragic loss to college rodeo,” National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Commissioner Roger Walters said during the weeklong 2011 CNFR, which ended Saturday night at the Casper Events Center. “Who lost? Our students.”

For 37 years, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of scholarships to college rodeo. While the presence of the company’s banners and flags at the CNFR ceased in 2009, the company — acquired by Altria that same year — continued giving scholarship money through last year.

Walters said the company, in a time of economic hardship, gave roughly $250,000 in scholarships each year to college rodeo performers. The sponsorship pullout by the company, he said, constituted an 80 to 85 percent loss in money available for the performers.

“I understand the reasons (for their departure), but in the long run, it hurts our students,” he said. “And that’s what this rodeo is for, first and foremost.”

Health officials, however, applauded the move.

“It is never a good idea to promote a product that is a deadly killer,” said Niki Mueller, the program director of Wyoming Through With Chew. “Rodeo is a family event, and the contestants are at an age that the industry likes to target. The younger the target, the longer they are a customer.”

Smokeless tobacco is sold as moist snuff and is most commonly chewed by the user. While it’s not as lethal as cigarette smoking, the levels of nicotine in smokeless tobacco can be more addictive.

In Wyoming, about 25 percent of high school boys and 7 percent of high school girls use some form of the product, Mueller said.

The loss of the smokeless tobacco company’s sponsorship has not affected the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s events, Walter said, because the company’s funding came in the form of scholarships.

“Financially, we’re as well off as we were three years ago,” he said. “It did not hurt college rodeo. It hurt our student-athletes.”

Walters, who has presided over the CNFR for three years, said roughly 3,500 students from colleges across the United States are members of the NIRA. To join, a student must have passed at least 24 hours of college courses with at least a 2.0 overall grade-point average.

There is also a $255 membership fee, $127 of which goes toward the student’s insurance.

The association has about 110 events annually, as well as the CNFR, which alone costs roughly $500,000 to put on. Those events are funded by sponsors, both nationally and locally.

“Without sponsorship money, college rodeo, the CNFR, would not be functional,” Walter said. “Sponsorship is what makes it happen.”

The commissioner stressed that the smokeless tobacco company’s scholarship recipients had the money given to their schools in their names. The only stipulation, he said, was that the recipient be at least 18 years old.

Jason Mincer, government relations director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Wyoming, said that while the company may not have put any requirements in terms of its products on recipients, “case after case of rolls” of free smokeless tobacco were made available.

“In my mind, it is a pretty shady thing to do for a lot of reasons,” Mincer said.

Because college rodeo is a club sport not sanctioned by the NCAA, cowboys and cowgirls are free to compete professionally at the same time, and many do. Vernon College bareback and saddle bronc rider JR Vezain of Cowley, who competed in last week’s CNFR, currently ranks 12th in bareback riding in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

College rodeo officials have added incentive to make up for the loss in scholarship funding, as some top contestants could elect to turn pro full time if the college level is no longer lucrative.

“That’s definitely a consideration,” Walters said. “It’s something we knew would be a possibility, but we’re trying to overcome that.”

Mincer said he understands the hit students have taken in the form of available scholarship money, but he doesn’t believe that a “$1,000 or $5,000 scholarship offsets the onset of mouth cancer.”

To date, Walters said he has made more than 30 presentations to potential sponsors in the hopes of replacing the loss of scholarships.

“Have I replaced it?” he said. “The answer is no.”

Mueller, whose agency works to change the social norms and acceptance of tobacco use in Wyoming, said she also understands Walters’ concern for the student-athletes.

“The loss of the sponsor is awful,” she said. “It really does put this rodeo and other rodeos that have been affected by Altria dropping their sponsorships in a difficult position. Hopefully, a healthy sponsor will step up.”

Mincer agreed.

“Obviously, I’d like to see those scholarships be replaced by a sponsor that would have a more positive impact on our students,” he said.

Walters said he doesn’t know when or if the rodeo will replace the scholarship possibilities lost when smokeless tobacco pulled out.

“When you lose $250,000 that is supposed to be for higher education,” he said, “it’s not easily replaced.”

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

Matthew Algeo’s ‘The President is a Sick Man’ vindicates an old story, and its reporter

Author: teve Weinberg

Stephen Grover Cleveland, born in 1837, would become one of the most unusual U.S. presidents, in multiple ways. Living in the east, he planned to make his way to the boomtown of Cleveland, in 1854, seeking riches. His prospects looked good, given the influence of his distant relative, Moses Cleaveland, often credited with founding the city.

The young man never made it past Buffalo, N.Y., however, where an uncle made him an employment offer. The rest of his life, Grover Cleveland (he dropped Stephen in favor of his middle name) would be bound up in New York state politics, except when he spent two nonconsecutive terms in the White House, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897.

Matthew Algeo, a historian and radio journalist, focuses on a dramatic, little-known event in his new book, “The President Is a Sick Man.” Algeo, a strong writer, nevertheless saddles his work with a ponderous subtitle “Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth.”

Suffering from mouth cancer in 1893, Cleveland disappeared to undergo surgery on the yacht of a friend. The president, his doctors and political advisers feared that news might exacerbate a financial recession and trigger panic.

Cleveland’s popular wife, Frances, young enough to be his daughter, lied to journalists about the president’s whereabouts. Cleveland’s press aide lied, too. Reporters accepted the falsehoods, misleading the citizenry into believing the nation’s leader vanished for five days to undergo dental work — painful, to be sure, but rarely fatal.

The truth did not begin to leak until about two months later. E.J. Edwards broke the story in The Philadelphia Press, only to be vilified as a spinner of falsehoods by a rival Philadelphia newspaperman, Alexander McClure of The Philadelphia Times, who convinced a lot of readers that President Cleveland had been treated shabbily.

Proud of his reporting and his skepticism, Edwards felt stung.

In this fascinating, rarely acknowledged saga, Edwards’ reputation would not be restored until 1917, when W.W. Keen, one of the physicians aboard the yacht, decided to set history straight. He wrote a compelling, credible account in the widely circulated Saturday Evening Post magazine. As Algeo notes, Edwards was able to bask in the glow of vindication for seven years, until his death during 1924.

Cleveland had emphasized truth-telling during his presidencies, so the secrecy and unfair attacks on Edwards sullied the president’s reputation. Algeo is a first-rate researcher and offers readers context aplenty, perhaps none so relevant today as the perception of cancer in the celebrity political realm.

“The public’s perception of cancer has changed dramatically since 1893,” Algeo notes. “No longer is the word itself avoided in polite company. Nor is cancer considered an automatic death sentence. But the disease has not been conquered, and in some ways it remains the same ‘dread and mysterious enemy’ that E.J. Edwards wrote of in his story about the secret operation on Grover Cleveland.”

1. Steve Weinberg is a biographer and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He lives in Columbia, Mo.

Glowing Cornell Dots Target Cancer

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, June 13, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire)– New medical technology is showing that Cornell dots may be a potential cancer diagnostic tool. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved the first clinical trial in humans using Cornell Dots- brightly glowing nanoparticles that can light up cancer cells in PET-optical imaging.

Cornell Dots are silica spheres less than eight nanometers in diameter that enclose several dye molecules. To make the dots stick to tumor cells, organic molecules that bind to tumor surfaces, or even specific locations within the tumors, can be attached to a polyethylene glycol shell. This shell, also referred to as PEG, prevents the body from recognizing the dots as foreign substances. When exposed to near-infrared light, the dots fluoresce much brighter than dye to serve as a beacon identifying the target cells. Researchers say this technology enables visualization during surgical treatment.

Cornell Dots were first developed in 2005 by Hooisweng Ow, a coauthor of the paper on this study and once a graduate student working with Ulrich Wiesner, Cornell Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Ow and other researchers of this technology are currently in the process of forming a new commercial entity in New York City that will help transition this research into commercial products that will benefit cancer patients.

Michelle S. Bradbury, M.D, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and an assistant professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, was quoted as saying, “This is the first FDA IND approved inorganic particle platform of its class and properties that can be used for multiple clinical indications as well as cancer disease staging and tumor burden assessment via lymph node mapping.”

Scientists are able to perform real-time imaging of lymphatic drainage patterns and particle clearance rates as well as sensitivity, to detect nodal metastases. Nodal mapping is also being pursued which is expected to lead to another clinical trial in humans.

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


June, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

Boys and HPV Vaccine: The Facts

Source: Forbes Magazine

CNN reports on a study that argues that boys should get vaccinated for the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer in women. But it misses the main reason that boys should be getting jabs of either Merck‘s Gardasil or GlaxoSmithKline’s rival Cervarix. Cue CNN:

Men also carry the human papillomavirus, the virus that can lead to male cancers and genital warts. And they could spread HPV to their sexual partners, putting those people at risk for cervical cancer.

So the HPV vaccine, that is often recommended for girls, should extend to boys as well, say researchers from Innsbruck Medical University in Austria. Their study was presented at the meeting of the American Urological Association on Tuesday.


In the study, Dr. Michael Ladurner Rennau and his colleagues tested 133 men, between 7 months to 82 years old for the presence of HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. They used DNA extraction. They found 18.8% of the examined foreskins had the low-risk HPV genotypes and 9.77% had the high-risk HPV.

via Males should get HPV vaccine too, study says – The Chart – Blogs.

Of course, the reason there’s not a big push to vaccinate men for HPV is because genital warts are treatable and penile and anal cancers are rare. And saying, “Let’s vaccinate your son so that the women he sleeps with won’t get HPV” is an uncomfortable and probably unconvincing approach for pediatricians to take with parents. Girls — the ones who might get cervical cancer — aren’t being vaccinated in overwhelming numbers.

But men are at risk for another cancer that is caused by HPV — cancer of the tonsils. The data aren’t entirely clear, but it appears that on the order of 11,400 cases of HPV-caused tonsil cancer are occurring annually, mostly in men. That compares to 12,000 cases of cervical cancer annually. These numbers are a bit fuzzy, because scientists have only just started studying the frequency of HPV infection in men, but it’s clear that HPV-caused tonsil cancer is becoming more common at a dramatic rate. Cases could double in just a few years.

The good news is that HPV-caused tonsil cancer is less deadly than traditional forms of head and neck cancer. But it can still kill. Take this patient, who I wrote about a year ago (see: The Cancer-Causing Sex Virus)

Martin Duffy, a Boston consultant and economist, thought he just had a sore throat. When it persisted for months he went to the doctor and learned there was a tumor on his tonsils.

Duffy, now 70, had none of the traditional risk factors for throat cancer. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink and has run 40 Boston Marathons. Instead, his cancer was caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted and a common cause of throat and mouth cancer.

HPV tumors have a better prognosis than those caused by too many years of booze and cigarettes. But Duffy “is in the unlucky 20%” whose cancer comes back, despite rounds of chemotherapy and radiation that melted 20 more pounds off a lean 150-pound frame. Now the cancer has spread throughout his throat, making eating and talking difficult. “I made my living as a public speaker,” he says. “Now I sound like Daffy Duck.” Duffy believes he has only a few months left. “How do you tell the people you love you love them?” he asks.

Let’s be clear:  the most common route for HPV transmission to men’s throats is performing oral sex on women. But the virus is actually pretty easy to transmit, and other routes of transmission are possible. The reason it is increasing so fast probably is mostly due to increases in the average number of sexual partners that people have. For more on the biology of the disease, see this profile of scientist Maura Gillison, who has done the most to establish this link, that I wrote in 2009.

One argument against vaccinating boys I’ve heard pretty often is a suspicion that drug companies are pushing this research, trying to increase their bottom lines by vaccinating boys. I believe the opposite is true. Merck has so far declined to conduct a big, expensive study to establish that Gardasil can prevent HPV infection in the throat, probably because it would be difficult to use such a study to get regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Glaxo, in the past, has always told me it’s interested in focusing on HPV in cervical cancer.

But among researchers, there seems little doubt that this is a problem. And vaccines might be our best hope in preventing it from metastasizing. My worry is that the bad feelings drug companies have generated by marketing medicines too hard are preventing us from facing facts.

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

HPV Becomes a Major Topic for Researchers as a Source of Oral Cancers

By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Amid Michael Douglas’s personal and philanthropic battle with throat cancer, the Oscar-winning actor is shedding light on a viral form of the disease lurking in a growing number of mouths.

Oral cancer has long been linked to tobacco and alcohol use, but an expanding body of research suggests human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an increasing cause of the deadly disease.

The culprit behind the sexually transmitted virus’ emergence in mouth and throat cancers? Experts say a major factor is the prevalence of oral sex.

More and more researchers have cast their microscopes on the mysteries of HPV-caused oral cancers, including McGill University, which received a big fundraising boost last week with the help of Douglas.

The grateful actor, diagnosed with throat cancer last year in a Montreal hospital, volunteered to headline a charity event for the McGill Head and Neck Cancer Fund.

The 66-year-old, who calls himself a “poster boy” for head-and-neck cancer, has blamed alcohol as a likely source of his illness, not HPV.

Still, a portion of the $2 million amassed at the event will support HPV-caused oral cancer research.

The doctor who first detected the walnut-sized tumour in Douglas’s throat said the fund has supported HPV projects in the past and more are in the works.

“This is an area of increasing incidence,” Dr. Saul Frenkiel said of HPV-caused oral cancer at the university-affiliated hospital where he treated Douglas.

Although relatively rare, the Canadian Cancer Society estimates oral cancers, in general, caused 1,150 deaths last year in Canada.

The group says there were around 3,400 new cases of oral cancer in 2010, making it the 13th most common type of cancer in the country. Prostate cancer ranked No. 1 with 24,600 new cases.

Researchers and physicians say HPV has increasingly played a bigger role.

Dr. Eduardo Franco, McGill’s director of cancer epidemiology, has studied HPV-linked cancers for more than 25 years, and estimates the virus is the source of between 25 and 35 per cent of oral cancer.

He said effective anti-smoking campaigns have helped reduce tobacco-related oral cancers by about two per cent a year since 1997.

But the number of cases of oral cancers has remained steady, he added.

“The reason why for so long we distrusted this potential new cause of oral cancer was because we seemed to know pretty well what caused oral cancer — namely tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption,” he said.

Franco said research into HPV-related oral cancer really only began in the 1990s and the technique to identify viral DNA is relatively new, meaning outside of specific studies, statistics on the overall increase have been difficult to compile.

He said oral sex has become more prevalent since the 1960s, boosting the spread of HPV to mouths and throats — including strains known as potential causes of cancer.

“This was a period of tremendous social changes and liberal attitudes and to more hedonistic ways of looking at life,” he said.

On the positive side, Franco said HPV-caused oral cancers are more treatable than the non-viral ones.

Dr. Anthony Nichols, a head and neck surgeon in London, Ont., cited a 2009 Swedish study that found cases of at least one form of HPV-related cancer have tripled since 1970.

“The number is definitely increasing worldwide,” the London Health Sciences Centre doctor wrote in an email.

Nichols said studies have shown that HPV now causes nearly two-thirds of oral cancers, with the number of cases increasing by about two to three per cent per year.

“Which is a lot in cancer terms,” he said.

A 2008 U.S. study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology categorized some 46,000 cases reported between 1973 and 2004 and found that incidence rates for HPV-linked oral cancers were on the rise.

At the time, study co-author Dr. Maura Gillison of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., predicted the number of oral cancers in the U.S. caused by HPV to surpass those triggered by alcohol and tobacco within a few years.

Brian Hill, founder of the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation in Los Angeles, said recent research shows it has already reached around 60 per cent.

Hill, who survived HPV-caused oral cancer, said safe oral sex doesn’t guarantee the virus won’t spread.

And good luck trying to get people to abstain from oral sex, he added.

“Let’s be realistic. You can’t say, ‘Don’t engage in oral sex,'” he said. “Everybody engages in oral sex. This isn’t some kind of abnormal behaviour.”

Doctors believe the HPV vaccine, currently offered to girls for the prevention of cervical cancer caused by the virus, could eventually prove itself as a protective method for oral cancer.

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.

Health Canada approved the vaccine for use by girls and women in 2006 and it has become part of many school-based immunization campaigns. In February 2010, Health Canada also approved the vaccine for boys and men ages nine through 45.

Franco said boys should be inoculated against HPV.

“I’m a strong believer in the value of HPV vaccination,” said Franco, adding he expects the high cost of the vaccines will decrease over time.

“I’ve conducted these clinical studies, I’ve advised the pharmaceutical companies of the best ways to conduct these trials, I’ve seen the results.”

Another preventative measure for oral cancers is screening, something Douglas endorsed in his speech last week in Montreal.

Douglas noted that Sunday was the start of oral, head and neck cancer awareness week, when U.S. hospitals are offering free screenings for the disease.

But Douglas, who saw several doctors before his cancer was detected, explained that even checkups offer no guarantee.

Frenkiel believes the quality of oral examinations will only improve.

“I think it’s a way of the future, absolutely,” he said.

“There’s going to be new technologies emerging for screening … in the oral cavity.”

U of A study finds ways to help end dry mouth in cancer patients

Source: e! Science News

For patients suffering from cancer in the mouth or throat, a recent study shows that a treatment called submandibular gland transfer will assist in preventing a radiation-induced condition called xerostomia. Also known as dry mouth, xerostomia occurs when salivary glands stop working. University of Alberta researcher Jana Rieger likens the feeling of xerostomia to the experience of the after-effects of having surgery and anesthetic—but the feeling is permanent.

While the importance of healthy saliva glands may be an afterthought for some patients when battling cancer, the long-lasting effects create a number of problems for them when they are in remission.

“We need saliva to keep our mouths healthy,” said Rieger. “Without saliva, people can lose their teeth, dentures don’t fit properly and the ability to swallow and speak is severely altered.”

The study conducted by Rieger, a speech language pathologist in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, looked at functional outcomes—speech changes, swallowing habits and the quality of life of patients with mouth and throat cancers—as they received two different types of treatments prior to and during radiation.

The first group of patients underwent the submandibular gland transfer. This method was pioneered by Hadi Seikaly and Naresh Jha at the University of Alberta in 1999. The transfer involves moving the saliva gland from under the angle of the jaw to under to the chin. Prior to this procedure, the saliva gland was in line for the radiation. Seikaly says, “Most patients, when they are cured from cancer, complain of one major thing: dry mouth.”

The second group in the study took the oral drug salagen. Rieger says, “Studies have shown in the past that if this drug was taken during radiation, it might protect the cells in the salivary glands.”

According to the study findings, both groups had the same results in terms of being able to speak properly but where the main difference was in swallowing. The group taking the drug had more difficulty.

Rieger said, “This group needed to swallow more, and it took a longer time to get food completely out of their mouth and into the esophagus. Because they had trouble eating, they may become nutritionally comprised.”

This leads to a host of other problems. Dry mouth causes one to drink large volumes of water, which leads to numerous trips to the bathroom. Difficulty swallowing causes issues with eating food while it’s still hot and it takes the patients a long time to complete a meal.

As a result of these problems, Rieger found the quality life for most patients decreased significantly. “People suffering from xerostomia no longer want to go out eat and be in social settings. Consuming water to quench dry mouth means they have difficulty in getting a good night’s sleep. Some become depressed and avoid going out.”

Based on this study, the authors hope to encourage patients to have the submandiublar gland transfer as a preventative treatment for xerostomia prior to radiation for mouth and throat cancers.


Dental professionals join The Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness as HPV is now the primary cause of Oral Cancers in America

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — A serious change in the cause of oral cancer is taking place nationally, and its implications are impacting the American public in a manner that a decade ago no one would have predicted.

For decades, oral cancer (also known as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, and throat cancer) has been a disease which most often occurred in older individuals, who during their lifetimes had been tobacco users.  Most cases were ultimately the result of lifestyle choices. Today that paradigm has changed. A common, sexually transferred virus has replaced tobacco as the number one cause of oral cancers, Human Papilloma Virus number 16 (HPV16). This is one of the same viruses that are responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women.

This year alone, approximately 37,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer, and one person will die every hour of every day from this disease. HPV16, one of about 130 versions of the virus, is now the leading cause of oral cancer, and is found in about 60% of newly diagnosed patients. Dr. Maura Gillison from the James Cancer Center, a long time researcher of the relationship between HPV and oral cancers, recently reported these new findings at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science meeting.

This change in etiology, which has accelerated its influence over the last two decades as tobacco use in the US simultaneously was declining, has also changed the demographics of who is getting the disease. It is no longer the domain of those over 50 who have smoked a decade or more of their lives. The fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population, are people in the 25-50 age range, who are never smokers, and that group predominantly comes to the disease from HPV16.  Their oral cancers occur in locations anatomically unique, mostly localized to the posterior of the mouth; in the oropharynx, tonsils, and at the base of the tongue.  This viral etiology makes identifying the “high risk” individual much more difficult.

Tobacco use in any form by itself continues to be an important risk factor for the disease. However, in the developed world, oral cancers are becoming more common because of persistent HPV16 viral infections. Evidence indicates that the virus can be sexually transmitted between partners, and accounts for the increase in young victims of oral cancer who do not fall into the historic, tobacco risk factor group. Additional risk factors include high alcohol consumption, the use of conventional smokeless (chewing/spit) tobacco, as well as prolonged exposure to the sun (for lip cancers).

In a National effort to raise awareness, The Oral Cancer Foundation has joined forces with dental offices throughout the US to screen individuals for the disease. Together, OCF and the dental community are urging the American public to take advantage of free oral cancer screenings during Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April.  Over 1250 free screening events are taking place in dental offices across America in this one month alone.  These simple visual and tactile screenings hold the hope for an early discovery, sometimes even as a pre cancer, when current treatments are the most effective and survival is the highest.  A list of the offices participating in this event can be located on the foundation’s web site at:

Dr. Ross Kerr, an oral medicine specialist at NYU comments, “In a painless, three to five minute oral cancer screening, most of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be seen with the naked eye, felt with the fingers, or elucidated during the patient’s oral history interview. Suspect tissues can be easily biopsied for a definitive diagnosis. Unlike most other cancer detection exams, the screening for oral cancer does not require any special equipment, is not uncomfortable or expensive, nor require invasive procedures. Any dentist or primary care physician and many nurses and dental hygienists, who have been trained to do oral cancer examinations, are in a position to find the early signs and symptoms of this disease. The dental community, through this partnership with The Oral Cancer Foundation, is positioning itself as the first line of defense against oral cancer through the process of early discovery of suspect tissues.”

Oral cancer kills almost three times as many people as cervical cancer every year, and is responsible for more deaths than from other cancers we hear about more routinely. Yet it continues to remain off the radar to most of the American public. Only recently when actor Michael Douglas was diagnosed with a base of tongue oral cancer, did the disease gain significant visibility.

It is an insidious disease, as in its early development it does not always produce physical symptoms that a person may be aware of, and this makes routine, professional screening highly important. If oral cancer is detected early (in stages 1 or 2), the survival rate can be as high as 80%-90%; but when found as a late stage disease (stages 3 or 4), the chances of survival drop to 20%-30%. Unfortunately, in more than half the cases, oral cancer is found in its later stages, and late discovery and diagnosis are major factors in the high death rate.

The good news is that it does not have to be this way. Like other cancer screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, opportunistic oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages.

Brian Hill, an HPV+ stage four oral cancer survivor and OCF Founder said, “Reducing the high death rate associated with oral cancer is a tangible opportunity today. We have seen early detection positively impact the death rates of many other cancers. The most notable is our sister disease, cervical cancer. Like oral cancer, it is predominantly squamous cell carcinoma, and is caused almost exclusively by the same HPV virus group. In the 1950’s when American women began getting an opportunistic annual cervical screening, we saw the death rate associated with it drop dramatically. A reduction in oral cancer deaths is not waiting on a new scientific discovery, diagnostic device, intervention, or treatment to make it occur. We do need increased public awareness, coupled with an engaged professional dental and medical community doing opportunistic screenings, to make death reduction a reality. The American public needs to avoid known risk factors and make sure that they receive an oral cancer exam at least annually.”

The Oral Cancer Foundation is encouraging the public to take advantage of these free screenings during April’s Oral Cancer Awareness Month. There are hundreds of free screening events taking place throughout the country. To learn more about oral cancer, or to find a screening location near you, go to the foundation’s website,  Early detection saves lives.

The Oral Cancer Foundation is an IRS registered 501c3 non-profit public service charity, that provides information, patient support, sponsorship of research and advocacy related to this disease.

SOURCE The Oral Cancer Foundation

My dog saved my life, says Sunderland man

Source: Sunderland Echo

By: Katy Wheeler

John and Pauline Douglas were devastated when their dog Diesel had to be put down after developing cancer of the neck.

But it was the late bull mastiff’s symptoms which helped John, 39, realise that he too had the disease.

The dad-of-four, of Tunstall Bank, noticed a lump in his neck in February.

And despite the fact he was told by doctors to rule out cancer, John’s experience with Diesel’s disease convinced him something was seriously wrong – and he pushed for further tests.

His instincts were proved correct and John was diagnosed with cancer, which had spread to his neck, in April – just a week before his wedding day to wife Pauline, 41.

John said: “Because of my age, the fact I don’t smoke and because I am a moderate drinker, I was told not to worry about cancer and that it was just an infection.

“But what happened to Diesel set alarm bells ringing.

“He had the same kind of lump in his neck that would swell up and down. We were told his wasn’t cancer to start with and it was only found late on.

“Even though I was told by a specialist that I didn’t fit the criteria for cancer, the doubt was still niggling and I made such a song and dance that more tests were done.”

As a result of John’s persistence, one of his tonsils was removed and a biopsy revealed the cancer, which had spread to his lymph glands.

After six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, followed by surgery at Sunderland Royal Hospital, John is now getting his life back to normal.

He is back at work for Vauxhall technical support section.

He said: “I am pushing for normality. The cancer took six months off me. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but I visited the hospital today and they say they don’t need to see me for two months. So today is a good day.”

Such is John’s gratitude to five-year-oldDiesel, who was put down in August last year, he even has a tattoo of him on his leg.

“I owe my life to Diesel. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been so sure something was seriously wrong. I would urge anyone who is concerned about their mouth and neck to get checked out,” he explained.

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, John is backing a campaign to raise awareness of the disease.

Events have been held across the region to promote early detection which improves survival chances.

December, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Smokeless tobacco picking up steam — Products growing in popularity as smokers turn to cheaper and less obtrusive alternatives

Source: Los Angeles Times

By: Julie Wernau

Ron Carroll prefers to smoke cigars and pipes. But when he can’t do that he says he manages to unobtrusively get his nicotine fix by slipping a packet of tobacco, about the size of a teabag, under his upper lip.

“I use it all the time — movies, planes,” said the Chicagoan, who adds that he likes the fact he can remove the packet as easily as a piece of gum. There’s no chewing, spitting or mess, he says.

“It’s discreet, and you don’t look like an addict, he said. “Smoking’s definitely more about the flavor; the whole experience,” Carroll said. “With this, it’s just taking the edge off.”

Cigarette sales by volume have plummeted 17 percent from 2005, partly the result of health warnings and bans on smoking in public places as well as taxation by local and federal governments. And the heat on cigarette smokers is expected to intensify as the federal Food and Drug Administration requires images of corpses and diseased lungs to be featured on cigarette packs in two years.

Smokeless tobacco products — which come in shapes ranging from toothpicks to orbs and in flavors from cherry to peach — so far have not met with the same intense scrutiny, although there have been some changes. In June, the FDA increased the size of warning labels on smokeless products. “This product is addictive” and “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes,” say the warnings.

Scientists say that overall, smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes, in large part because of a reduced risk of lung cancer. But medical experts agree that quitting tobacco altogether is the best alternative.

The FDA won’t report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services until 2012 on whether such products pose a threat to adolescents and children.

In a letter to tobacco-maker R.J. Reynolds in February, Lawrence Dayton, director for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, expressed concern that the Camel dissolvables line — which includes tobacco strips that dissolve in the mouth, sticks that resemble toothpicks and orbs that look like hard candy — could be appealing to children and adolescents.

“Absolutely none of us, no one, wants kids to smoke or to use tobacco products,” said Todd Holbrook, senior director of marketing for Camel Snus, at Reynolds.

Sherry Emery, senior scientist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has conducted focus groups on smoking products and said smoking tends to appeal to young people because it is visible, not because it is invisible. “Smoking is still very much a social behavior,” she said. “Smokeless tobacco is not social; the idea is to conceal it.”

While smokeless products represented just 6 percent of all tobacco sales in 2009, the market is growing at a rate of about 7 percent a year. Sales of smokeless tobacco products in 2010 are expected to total about $4.8 billion, according to Chicago-based Morningstar, which calculated that figure based on a year-over-year growth rate of 7 percent.

One of the reasons for the uptick is that “now you can consume products without anybody else being aware of it,” said Phil Gorham, a Morningstar analyst who follows the tobacco industry. He also said economic factors are driving people to quit or to switch to smokeless products. “We’ve had a big tax increase both on the federal and state level on cigarettes, and it’s becoming more expensive to smoke in some states,” he said.

At one retailer in Chicago, a pack of Marlboro was $10, with state, county and city excise taxes included, whereas a can of premium Swedish snus was $5.27 after taxes.

Gorham also said the growing array of smokeless tobacco products also has helped grow the market. “Going back a few years, smokeless products — all there really was the moist tobacco products that baseball players used, where you had to spit out the juice,” he said.

For the first time, viable alternatives exist, said Jason Healy, who founded an electronic cigarette company called Blu Cigs in 2009 in response to what he said has been a movement to treat smokers like “lepers.”

“Everyone’s been looking for the Holy Grail that allows you to smoke without everything that everyone’s concerned about,” Healy said.

Big Tobacco has taken notice. Between 2006 and 2009, the country’s two largest tobacco companies by market share — Altria Group and Reynolds American Inc. — acquired smokeless tobacco companies that together give them about 90 percent of the U.S. market share in that category.

The tobacco companies have begun branding smokeless products with traditional cigarette brand names such as Marlboro and Camel to lure disenfranchised smokers.

“Use of a well-defined brand name is more likely to make a smoker consider trying a category they’ve never tried before,” said Maura Payne, spokeswoman for Reynolds American, which began testing in certain markets Camel brand tobacco products that dissolve like hard candy.

In 2009, Altria Group’s Marlboro Snus and Reynolds’ Camel Snus made the national scene. Snus comes in small tea-bag like sachets that are placed in the mouth but don’t need to be chewed for the user to absorb the nicotine. Snus is pasteurized and refrigerated instead of fermented, a process that significantly lowers the levels of carcinogens that lead to mouth cancers.

The Snus market saw 28 percent year-over-year growth by volume in 2009, according to Euromonitor.

Chuck Levy, owner of Iwan Ries & Co., a fifth-generation family-owned tobacco purveyor at Wabash and Madison that’s home to one of the city’s only surviving legal smoking lounges, said he used to carry Marlboro and Camel Snus. But he said they didn’t sell as well as General Snus, a popular Swedish brand.

“We sell it to young people, old people. They come in suits as well as jeans,” he said.

With smoking bans in place, Levy said, many are looking for a replacement that can also give them the oral sensation they get from smoking.

Smokeless products also help adhere to smoking policies. Douglas Luke, director of the Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “The smoke-free policies tend to be around protecting people from exposure to secondhand smoke. So, since smokeless products don’t have that, the gold standards are silent on that.”

Dr. Frank Leone, director of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center’s Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program, said smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are a way for cigarette smokers to prolong their addiction to nicotine. It’s what he calls the “compromise position” — not as healthy as quitting, but not as unhealthy as smoking.

“It’s much more likely that people will find and seek out that compromise position than stop altogether,” he said.

While Leone said smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes, that advantage may be done-in by the frequency of use. That’s because some smokers who have cut back because of smoking bans, may be consuming smokeless tobacco all day long, between cigarettes.

Traditional chewing tobacco has been shown to cause mouth, tongue, lip, jaw and even bladder cancers, said Leone. And like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco use can lead to a host of cardiovascular diseases although to a lesser extent, he said. While several studies show a decreased risk of cancer for those who use Snus over traditional fermented tobacco, little is known about its cardiovascular effects, he said.

Adam Johnson said he could smoke 50 hours a week if he wasn’t careful. Usually a pipe smoker, Johnson uses Snus packets throughout the day, he says, to stop himself from smoking too much.

“With (smoking) tobacco, I say I’m doing it for the flavor. This is — you can get a dose of nicotine while you’re helping a customer who doesn’t smoke, and they won’t even know it,” said Johnson.

Reynolds’ Holbrook said consumers are moving to smokeless because it offers freedom and choice that cigarettes can no longer offer.

“They’re looking for options where they can continue to enjoy tobacco on their terms, and they have control of the situation. They want tobacco that can be enjoyed at a bar or a nightclub,” he said.

December, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Mum’s two-year ‘earache’ was huge tumour

Source: Mirror News

By: Jeremy Armstrong

A mum told she had earache actually had a giant tumour.

It took medics a year to spot Paula Bell’s mouth cancer. Believing it harmless, they took another year to operate. Part of the tumour remains.

Paula, 41, of Newcastle, said: “I got on my knees and begged the specialist to operate. I was that desperate.”

She was referred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in 2006 and said: “I was put on antibiotics as they thought it was an ear infection. That went on for months.” In March 2007, a doctor suspected a dislocated jaw and sent her to the nearby General Hospital.

It took two months for scans to find the tumour. Surgeons operated in April 2008 – then realised its severity.

Paula got an undisclosed payout.

Newcastle Hospitals Trust said it was not an “admission as to liability”.

November, 2010|Oral Cancer News|