radiotherapy

Psychological impact of head and neck cancers

Source: pharmafield.co.uk
Author: Emma Morriss

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), in partnership with patient groups The Swallows and the Mouth Cancer Foundation, have announced the results from a patient survey into the psychological impact of head and neck cancers. The research explored the long-term burden of treatment on head and neck cancer patients.

After undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer, which can include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, many patients report an ongoing impact on their day-to-day life. However, 55% of the 118 patients surveyed indicated they did not receive the right level of information in preparation for the complications encountered from treatment.

There are around 11,900 new head and neck cancer cases in the UK every year and the incidence of head and neck cancer has increased by 32% since the early 1990s.

Following treatment, the survey showed 56% of patients had problems with simple things like swallowing, often experiencing severe pain, while two-thirds of patients experienced changes in their voice or speech. The survey also showed self-reported change from pre- to post- treatment in vital areas including a drop in the ability to communicate (37%), memory loss (21%), and trouble sleeping (20%).

As well as physical symptoms, treatment can have severe implications on mental health too. 52% of patients reported feelings of anxiety before treatment, which only reduced to 48% following treatment. However, emotional and psychological support was only offered to 46% of patients.

A majority of patients did receive access to a clinical nurse specialist, however there was still 23% who were not offered this service. Clinical nurse specialists use their skills and expertise in cancer care to provide physical and emotional support, coordinate care services and inform and advise patients on clinical as well as practical issues, which have been shown to lead to more positive patient outcomes.

“These results show the impact treatment may have on head and neck cancer patients. The continued problems and symptoms experienced by patients after treatment significantly impacts patients’ daily life. We also know physical disfigurement can increase social anxiety. It is important that we raise the awareness of this and work together to provide solutions to improve and support patient outcomes.” said Mouth Cancer Foundation, Clinical Ambassador, Mr Mahesh Kumar.

“With the incidence of head and neck cancers increasing, it is vital we understand what we can do to help patients. We are so pleased to have worked in collaboration with BMS and the Mouth Cancer Foundation to help raise awareness of this disease and understand where patients might need more help to reduce the impact on their lives. We know head and neck cancers, and the associated complications, do not get a lot of attention so it’s crucial for awareness days such as World Head and Neck Cancer Day to be used to shine a light on the disease. By doing so, it will help to improve detection, treatment and outcomes for patients.” commented Chris Curtis, Chairman of The Swallows.

Standard chemotherapy treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer remains the most effective, study finds

Source: www.eurekalert.org
Author: press release, University of Birmingham

A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the University of Birmingham has found that the standard chemotherapy used to treat a specific type of throat cancer remains the most effective.

The findings of the trial, which aimed to compare for the first time the outcomes of using two different kinds of treatment for patients with Human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive throat cancer, are published today (November 15th) in The Lancet.

Throat cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in Western countries. In the UK, incidence was unchanged between 1970 and 1995, then doubled between 1996 and 2006, and doubled again between 2006 and 2010. The rise has been attributed to HPV, which is often a sexually transmitted infection. Most throat cancers were previously caused by smoking and alcohol and affected 65 to 70 year old working class men. Today, HPV is the main cause of throat cancer and patients are middle class, working, have young children and are aged around 55.

HPV-positive throat cancer responds well to a combination of cisplatin chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and patients can survive for 30 to 40 years, but the treatment causes lifelong side effects including dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and loss of taste.

The De-ESCALaTE HPV study, which was sponsored by the University of Warwick, compared the side effects and survival of 164 patients who were treated with radiotherapy and cisplatin, and 162 who were given radiotherapy and cetuximab. The patients were enrolled between 2012 and 2016 at 32 centres in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Patients were randomly allocated to be treated with radiotherapy and either cisplatin or cetuximab. Eight in ten patients were male and the average age was 57 years.

Importantly, the results found that there was very little difference between the two drugs in terms of toxicity in patients and side effects such as dry mouth, however, there was a significant difference in the survival rates and recurrences of cancer in patients taking part in the trial.

They found that the patients who received the current standard chemotherapy cisplatin had a significantly higher two-year overall survival rate (97.5%) than those on cetuximab (89.4%). During the six-year study, there were 29 recurrences and 20 deaths with cetuximab, compared to 10 recurrences of cancer and six deaths in patients who were treated with the current standard chemotherapy cisplatin.

And cancer was three times more likely to recur in two years following treatment with cetuximab compared to cisplatin, with recurrence rates of 16.1 per cent versus six per cent, respectively.

Study lead Professor Hisham Mehanna, Director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education, said: “Many patients have been receiving cetuximab with radiotherapy on the assumption that it was as effective as cisplatin chemotherapy with radiotherapy and caused fewer side effects but there has been no head-to-head comparison of the two treatments.

“Cetuximab did not cause less toxicity and resulted in worse overall survival and more cancer recurrence than cisplatin.

“This was a surprise – we thought it would lead to the same survival rates but better toxicity. Patients with throat cancer who are HPV positive should be given cisplatin, and not cetuximab, where possible.”

Dr Emma King, Cancer Research UK Associate Professor in head and neck surgery at the University of Southampton, said: “Studies like this are essential for us to optimise treatments for patients. We now know that for HPV-positive throat cancer, the standard chemotherapy treatment remains the most effective option.

“However, we must keep testing new alternatives to ensure patients always have access to cutting-edge and kinder treatments. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can leave head and neck cancer patients with long term pain and difficulties swallowing, so we should always strive to minimise side effects.”

Professor Janet Dunn from the University of Warwick, whose team ran the De-ESCALaTE HPV trial, said: “In the current trend for de-escalation of treatment, the results of the De-ESCALaTE HPV trial are very important as they were not as we expected. They do highlight the need for academic clinical trials and are an acknowledgement of the key role played by Warwick Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Warwick as the co-ordination and analysis centre for this important international trial.”

The patients on the De-ESCALaTE trial Steering Committee endorsed the importance of research findings.

Malcom Babb, who is also President of the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs, said: “From a patient perspective, De-ESCALaTE has been a success by providing definitive information about the comparative effectiveness of treatment choices.”

November, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

No De-escalation of Therapy for HPV+ Throat Cancer

Source: www.medscape.com
Author: Alexander M. Castellino, PhD

Another trial has shown that de-escalating therapy does not work in patients with good prognosis human papillomavirus-positive (HPV+) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma or throat cancers.

Results from the De-ESCALaTE HPV study show that using the targeted drug cetuximab with radiotherapy does not improve side effects and, more importantly, has worse survival compared with the standard of care — chemotherapy with cisplatin and radiotherapy.

The finding echoes the results from the US National Cancer Institute’s Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 1016 trial, the top-line results of which were released earlier this year, and details of which were presented this week at the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2018 meeting.

“Do not change your clinical practice of using cisplatin with radiotherapy in these patients,” cautioned Hisham Mehanna, MBChB, PhD, chair of head and neck surgery at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and lead investigator of the De-ESCALaTe study. He presented the results during a presidential session here at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress (abstract LBA9).

“Cetuximab did not cause less toxicity and resulted in worse overall survival and more cancer recurrence than cisplatin. This was a surprise — we thought it would lead to the same survival rates but better toxicity. Patients with throat cancer who are HPV+ should be given cisplatin, and not cetuximab, where possible,” Mehanna said in a statement.

Hope for Fewer Side Effects
Cetuximab with radiation is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in head and neck cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer, and is an accepted standard of care, especially for patients who cannot tolerate cisplatin.

The hope behind de-escalation of therapy was that this regimen would offer similar efficacy but have fewer side effects than the standard regimen of cisplatin plus radiation.

“The side effects of treatment for patients with head and neck cancers are devastating. They experience loss of speech, loss of taste, and have trouble swallowing,” explained ESMO expert Jean-Pascal Machiels, MD, PhD, head of the department of medical oncology at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium.

“With HPV increasing rapidly in the Western world, HPV+ head and neck cancers are typically seen in younger patients who respond well to treatment and live for three to four decades. These patients would like to live without the toxicities associated with treatment,” he added.

“Based on a large study in 2006, many patients have been receiving cetuximab with radiotherapy on the assumption that it was as effective as chemotherapy with radiotherapy and caused fewer side effects,” Mehanna commented. That study showed that for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, treatment with cetuximab and high-dose radiotherapy improved locoregional control and reduced mortality. At the same time, side effects were no worse (N Engl J Med. 2006;354:567-578).

 

OCF NOTE: The foundation’s donors were funders of the RTOG 1016 clinical trial over several years.

Patients with HPV-positive oropharynx cancer should receive chemoradiation

Source: medicalxpress.com
Author: provided by European Society for Medical Oncology

Patients with human papilloma virus (HPV)-positive throat cancer should receive chemoradiotherapy rather than cetuximab with radiotherapy, according to late-breaking research reported at the ESMO 2018 Congress in Munich.

“Many patients have been receiving cetuximab with radiotherapy on the assumption that it was as effective as chemotherapy with radiotherapy and caused less side effects but there has been no head-to-head comparison of the two treatments,” said study author Prof Hisham Mehanna, Chair, Head and Neck Surgery, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK.

Throat cancer is rapidly becoming more common in Western countries. For example in the UK, incidence was unchanged in 1970 to 1995, then doubled in 1996 to 2006, and doubled again in 2006 to 2010.The rise has been attributed to HPV, a sexually transmitted infection. Most throat cancer was previously caused by smoking and alcohol and affected 65-70 year-old working class men. Today HPV is the main cause and patients are around 55, middle class, working, and have young children.

HPV-positive throat cancer responds well to a combination of cisplatin chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and patients can survive for 30-40 years, but the treatment causes lifelong side effects including dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and loss of taste. Patients deemed unable to tolerate chemotherapy, for example because of poor kidney function or older age, receive cetuximab, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor, and radiotherapy.

This study compared side effects and survival with the two treatments in 334 patients with HPV-positive throat cancer enrolled from 32 centres in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Patients were randomly allocated to radiotherapy and either cisplatin or cetuximab. Eight in ten patients were male and the average age was 57 years.

During the two-year study there were ten recurrences and six deaths with cisplatin compared to 29 recurrences and 20 deaths with cetuximab. Patients on cisplatin had a significantly higher two-year overall survival rate (97.5%) than those on cetuximab (89.4%; p=0.001, hazard ratio [HR] 4.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.70-14.67). Cancer was over three times more likely to recur in two years with cetuximab compared to cisplatin, with recurrence rates of 16.1% versus 6.0%, respectively (p=0.0007, HR 3.39, 95% CI 1.61-7.19).

There were no differences between groups in the overall number of side effects, or of acute or late severe (grade 3-5) toxic events including dry mouth and difficulty swallowing. There were significantly more serious adverse events such as renal and haematological problems with cisplatin than with cetuximab.

Mehanna said: “Cetuximab did not cause less toxicity and resulted in worse overall survival and more cancer recurrence than cisplatin. This was a surprise—we thought it would lead to the same survival rates but better toxicity. Patients with throat cancer who are HPV positive should be given cisplatin, and not cetuximab, where possible.”

Commenting on the study for ESMO, Dr. Branislav Bystricky, Head, Medical and Radiation Oncology Department, University Hospital Trencin, Slovakia, said: “It was believed that cetuximab causes less side effects and was therefore a good option for HPV-positive throat cancer patients who are young and expected to survive for several decades, as well as those less able to tolerate chemotherapy. This study shows that the best treatment choice for patients with HPV-positive throat cancer is cisplatin and radiotherapy. This combination gives ‘double’ the benefit since it is more effective in terms of survival and does not worsen all grade toxicity compared to cetuximab with radiotherapy.”

Bystricky noted that the results were in agreement with interim findings of the US National Cancer Institute’s RTOG 1016 trial, which is scheduled to report this month. He said: “We now have two studies showing that these patients should not be given cetuximab. Future research should examine whether genotyping for the KRAS-variant can select a group of patients that will benefit from cetuximab treatment with radiotherapy.”

October, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Long-term implant failure in patients treated for oral cancer by external radiotherapy: a retrospective monocentric study

Source: Journal of Oral Medicine and oral Surgery, JOMOS
Date: October 10th, 2018
Authors: Aline Desoutter, Sophie Deneuve, Sophie-Charlotte Condamin and Anne-Gaëlle Chaux-Bodard

Abstract

Introduction: The placement of dental implants in irradiated bone has allowed functional rehabilitation for many oral cancer patients. Nonetheless, there is only few data about implant failure in irradiated tissues and their consequences. This retrospective study aims to highlight the rate and circumstances of implant failure.

Material and method: Patients treated with external radiotherapy for oral carcinoma and who received dental implants were included. Patients reconstructed with free bone flaps were excluded.

Results: Eighteen patients were included. Forty implants were placed between 2004 and 2007, 8 failed, of whom one osteoradionecrosis was observed. Time interval between radiotherapy and implantation was 44.6 (6–182) months. Mean dose was 51.8 (50–66) Gy.

Discussion: In the series, the implant failure rate is 20%, which corroborates the literature’s data. Failures occur more often for doses over 50 Gy. The placement of dental implant in irradiated bone leads to soft tissue complications but also increases the risk of osteoradionecrosis. The recent reimbursement of dental implants in oral cancer patients by the National Social Health system will probably increase the indications. Multidisciplinary staffs should be aware of benefit/risk ratio for each patient.

Introduction

Dental implants in patients treated for upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) cancers have facilitated the functional and aesthetic rehabilitation of patients whose postoperative anatomy did not allow for the placement of conventional prostheses. Several studies have been conducted and the success rates have varied from 62.5% to over 90% [1]. These success rates would be similar to those found in a healthy patient’s mandible, which is reported to be 92.6% [2]. However, there is little information regarding the types of failures that occur with these implants, as well as the consequences and circumstances surrounding their occurrence, especially when the radiation dose at the implant site is >40 Gy. Indeed, most of the published studies are case studies in which there is great heterogeneity in the initial tumor sites and in the radiation doses received at the implant site. It is therefore difficult to precisely determine the failure risk in patients who have received large radiation doses in the oral area. The expected complications are mainly peri-implantitis, loss of implants, and even osteoradionecrosis (ORN) [3]. The aim of this study was to highlight long-term implant failures in patients who were treated with radiotherapy for oral cancer and to observe the circumstances and consequences of these failures.

Material and methods

The clinical records of oral cancer patients treated between 2004 and 2007 by radiotherapy (exclusively or not) and who received implants were reviewed. In the interest of maintaining the homogeneity of the study sample, patients treated with a microanastomosis fibula flap were excluded.

The following information was extracted from the case records: tumor location, tumor stage, and type of treatment received, the duration between radiotherapy and implantation, the type of implants placed, the surgical and operative protocol, the patient’s medical history (excluding oncology) as well as any implant or peri-implant clinical events and their time of occurrence. Failure was defined as loss of implant osseointegration resulting in implant loss or removal. Surgical and implant loading failures were considered. Statistical analysis was performed using XLSTAT® software (Microsoft).

Results

Eighteen patients, consisting of 14 males (77%) and four females (13%) were eventually included. The mean age at the time of implant placement was 57.5 years (range: 42–78 years).

The initial tumor locations, the initial tumor stage, and the treatments received are presented in Table I.

Table I : Population studied: sites, tumor stages, and treatments received.
Table II : Implant failures as a function of the radiation dose received, initial tumor site, and failure onset delay.

Discussion

Cervicofacial radiation is one of the primary causes of implant loss [1,4] regardless of whether it is administered early or late [5]. Several failure factors specific to implant placement in irradiated areas have been identified; these include the duration after radiotherapy and the radiation dose received.

For successful implantation, the minimum time after radiotherapy before implantation should be 6–12 months [6]. A delay of >12 months would improve implant success rates [7]. In the current study, a minimum period of 6 months was selected after the multidisciplinary consultation with the surgical oncologists and radiotherapists. After excluding the two patients who were treated several years ago, missed their follow-up, and then reappeared for prosthetic rehabilitation, the average implantation time after radiotherapy in our study was 20.37 months (range: 6–49 months). One study [8] showed that the failures are less severe in patients receiving implants a later stage of oncological treatment (17.1% failure rate for intraoperative implants versus 4.6% for those placed postoperatively). Of course, the idea of early rehabilitation encourages the surgical team to perform implantation along with tumor removal, before additional treatments are administered. Although this technique has the advantage of decreasing treatment duration, it is not always feasible because of the constraints of tumor management.

The radiation dose received at the implant site is also a major cause of implant failure, with doses <50 Gy being more favorable [9,10]. Animal studies and literature reviews show that the implant failure rate is directly correlated with the radiation dose received [9,10]. In the study, implant sites that received estimated doses >55 Gy had failure (mean: 59.33 Gy). In fact, all implant failures occurred in patients who received treatment for cancer involving the anterior aspect of the floor of the mouth. The therapeutic target was therefore very close to the implant site, and the dose administered at the implant site was close to the therapeutic dose delivered.

The biggest challenge consists in evaluating the radiation dose received at the implantation site. In most studies, the initial tumor sites involved all the UADTs, including the oropharynx, with low radiation doses of about 30 Gy at the symphyseal and parasymphyseal level. It therefore seems more appropriate to limit the evaluation of failure rates to patients treated for cancer of the oral cavity, as the radiation doses at the implant site are therefore more homogeneous. In published studies, only a few authors [11] highlight the antecedents or lack thereof of radiation, with irradiated tissue implants having osseointegration rates of 83% at 5 years.

Long-term implant survival rates reported by the previous clinical studies are nonhomogeneous, with values of 72.8% at 10 years [9], 24% at 5 years [10], or 72% at 8 years [11]; however, these values support the results of our present study. Thus, Wagner [12] reports a 5-year osseointegration rate of 97.5% and at 10 years of 72.8%, whereas other authors report success rates of 48.3% [3]. Another study reports complications in 41.5% patients [13].

Seven out of eight failures encountered in the series began with peri-implantitis. Werkmeister [14] observed a soft-tissue complication rate of 28.6% in irradiated areas versus 8.3% in nonirradiated areas. These complications can be explained in part by the small amount of keratinized gingiva, along with the predisposing factors of radiotherapy-related sensitization and dry mouth. The occurrence of peri-implantitis should be carefully monitored to avoid ORN [15].

An increased loss of marginal bone was reported by many authors, with 2–9 mm variations for a period of 3 years after implant surgery [16]. According to Tanaka [17], early failures are more frequent. In the studies, all failures occurred >1 year after implant placement.

In the present series, a case of loss of osseointegration resulted in extensive ORN at a rate of 2.5%. Treatment of ORN required a subsequent free vascularized bone transfer reconstruction. This patient had been treated for a mouth floor lesion in the past and had received a postoperative radiation dose of 64 Gy (See Patient 3, Tab. I). This implant failed 1 year previously, and a reimplantation was proposed because of the impossibility of prosthetic rehabilitation without bone anchorage. Thus, there were two interventions on adjacent parasymphyseal mandibular bone sites. The patient had reverted to smoking regularly despite tobacco counseling. The risk of triggering ORN following implant placement was estimated to be 1.6%–5% [9,16,18,19]. Some authors advocate the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy before and after implantation to stimulate or optimize healing and decrease ORN risk [20,21]. Others believe that the risk/benefit/cost ratio is not sufficiently favorable. More recently, the use of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound to increase healing capacity has been advocated [22]. Animal studies are currently underway [23].

Conclusion

It is widely accepted that the use of implant techniques in cancer patients is sometimes essential to ensure functional prosthetic rehabilitation. This retrospective study, which was conducted on patients who had specifically received oral radiotherapy, confirmed that it was a reliable therapeutic treatment for radiation doses of 45–50 Gy. However, the small number of patients in this study prevents the extrapolation of results to larger populations, considering the significant morbidity and lower success rate than patients who were not irradiated. Thus, the inherent risk of a past history of radiotherapy must be taken into account. The use of software like Dentalmaps® [24] allows a better evaluation of the doses received at potential implantation sites. This software is based on the automatic segmentation and delineation of the dental zones, making it possible to estimate the dose received at different points of the dental arch to the nearest 2-Gy fraction. However, the software is expensive, the work is laborious, and this device cannot be routinely used. Considering that health organizations are responsible for the cost management of implants in patients with cancer of UADT, there will be a definite increase in the indications for implantation [25]. It is up to the members present at the multidisciplinary consultation meetings to evaluate the benefit/risk ratio on a case-by-case basis.

October, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

Ask the Dentist: Cancer patients should be aware how radiotherapy can affect saliva

Source: www.irishnews.com
Author: Lucy Stock

SALIVA – we normally give little thought to our spit but we definitely notice when it’s not there. Every day in the UK 31 people are diagnosed with a head and neck cancer. With increasing numbers of people undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck cancers there are more people living with the side-effects of not having enough saliva.

Dry mouth, termed xerostomia, is common after radiotherapy. It’s not only extremely uncomfortable, it makes speaking and swallowing more difficult and alters how things taste. Food can taste saltier, metallic; you can lose your sense of taste totally; and perhaps even worse, foods can taste foul, like sour milk.

Not being able to chew and swallow easily can reduce how much you eat and how well you eat, leading to weight loss and poor nourishment.

Saliva performs numerous jobs. It starts digestion by breaking down food and flushes food particles from between the teeth. Crucially, saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that keep teeth strong. So no saliva means that teeth decay rapidly and extensively. Even voice quality can change.

Without enough saliva, bacteria and other organisms in the mouth take the opportunity to grow uncontrollably. Nasty sores and mouth infections, including yeast thrush infections, are run-of-the-mill.

Luckily a dry mouth is usually a temporary nuisance that clears up in about two to eight weeks but it can take six months or longer for the salivary glands to start producing saliva again after radiotherapy ends.

In a 2017 study, out of several treatments tested, the drug pilocarpine gave the most significant improvement in dry mouth following radiotherapy. However, you may experience a side effect, albeit short lived, from this medication and it can take a couple of months to work.

Artificial salivas are available as lozenges, sprays and gels, the downside being that their benefits last only a few hours. The Biotene range is specially designed to help relieve dry mouths and includes toothpastes, mouthwashes and gels to give comfort and protect the teeth.

You can buy small atomiser spray bottles from most chemists and fill them with water or fluoride mouthwash. If you cannot swallow, your nurse or doctor can give you a nebuliser to moisten your mouth and throat. Always visit your dentist before cancer treatments to maximise the health of your mouth.

Relieve a dry mouth by:

  • Sipping water often
  • Avoiding drinks with caffeine which dry out the mouth
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Avoiding spicy or salty foods, which may cause pain
  • Avoiding tobacco or alcohol
  • Using a humidifier at night.

What University of Toronto researchers are doing to help ‘devastating’ swallowing problems

Source: www.utoronto.ca
Author: Jim Oldfield

We swallow about 600 times a day, mostly without thinking about it. But swallowing involves dozens of muscles and nerves in the mouth, throat and esophagus, and for people who struggle with the process, the results can be devastating.

Malnutrition, dehydration and social isolation are common in people with swallowing trouble. So is depression and aspiration of food that leads to pneumonia. Occasionally, swallowing issues cause choking and sudden death. And a recent U.S. study of hospitalized patients with serious illnesses found that more than half said needing a feeding tube to live was a state equal to or worse than death.

Many conditions can cause swallowing problems: stroke, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, and congenital or developmental conditions such as cerebral palsy and cleft palate. People treated for head and neck cancer often develop problems, sometimes years later; and their numbers are growing as cancer survival rates improve. Estimates on the global prevalence of swallowing disorders, which collectively are known as dysphagia, are about eight per cent – almost 600 million people.

But there is good news. Before 1980, most patients with complex dysphagia got feeding tubes; today, clinicians can offer videofluoroscopy and other bedside tests to better assess swallowing problems, and less invasive therapies that emphasize exercise and posture.

And at the University of Toronto, scientists in the department of speech-language pathology and related fields are starting to answer long-standing questions such as how best to give dysphagia screening tests, which interventions work well for specific conditions, and how to create global standards to talk about and address swallowing issues.

Through research, we may be entering a new era in dysphagia care.

Which approach is better?
More than two-thirds of head and neck cancer patients need a feeding tube for several months, after radiotherapy. They typically get therapy from a speech language pathologist before swallowing problems begin or once symptoms arise. Both methods provide benefits, but the extent of the benefits from each approach is unclear.

Professor Rosemary Martino and her colleagues just launched a study that will provide answers. The US$8.5 million PRO-ACTIVE project will enrol 1,000 patients over five years in Toronto and six other cities across North America.

“The stuation now is what we call clinical equipoise,” says Martino, a professor in the department of speech-language pathology who holds a Canada Research Chair in swallowing disorders. “Both treatment approaches work but we don’t know which is better, and so we can’t know where to invest the most resources. We also know the clinical community is mixed in what they offer patients; this study will hopefully resolve those uncertainties once and for all.”

The researchers will track patients who get both proactive and reactive therapy, then measure and compare their ability to eat and swallow along with other health outcomes up to one year after radiotherapy. They will also parse the effects of each approach in different groups of patients and compare the effectiveness of low- and high-intensity proactive interventions. (Low-intensity therapy is pragmatic, with a focus on exercising oral musculature during meal times and some snacks; high-intensity therapy includes additional exercises between meals.)

“Intensity is both a resource and patient burden issue,” says Martino, whose lab is based at U of T and the Krembil Research Institute in University Health Network. “We know patient adherence to exercise therapy is often low, so we need to make sure we don’t overprescribe and raise the risk that they do nothing. And with better evidence, we can let patients know exactly how much better their swallow will be if they comply.”

The study will engage patients and families, clinicians and policy makers at several points, toward ensuring that new findings are practical and available to patients right away. Study researchers will also use new health informatics and quantitative imaging technology to establish the first international database to compare the effectiveness of swallowing interventions relative to radiation targets and doses. The database, housed by Martino and her team at University Health Network, will support trials to further guide therapy and help preserve the swallowing ability of patients.

A quick and effective screening test
Almost 60 per cent of acute stroke patients have some swallowing impairment. Stroke patients with dysphagia are three times more likely to get pneumonia, and for those with severe dysphagia, the risk of pneumonia is 11 times higher.

Globally, there is a pressing need for a quick and reliable bedside screening tool that can tell clinicians if a stroke patient has dysphagia: Early identification of swallowing problems allows for earlier intervention, which reduces the risk for pneumonia, malnutrition and death while speeding patient recovery and limiting health-care costs.

In the early 2000s, Martino’s lab developed a screening test called the Toronto Bedside Swallowing Screening Test (TOR-BSST), a simple one-page tool that only takes 10 minutes to administer and that allows clinicians to determine if a patient has a swallowing problem. In 2009, they published results from a trial of more than 300 stroke patients that showed the test had an accuracy rate of over 90 per cent. It was a practice-changing study.

The lab quickly set up an online training module and began to teach health professionals in Toronto and across Canada and the U.S. how to deliver the test. The tool has now been translated into six languages and is being adopted around the world, most recently in Japan and Brazil. “The TOR-BSST is really a Canadian success story, and we’re now validating this tool in critically ill cardiac patients who have been intubated for one day or more”, says Martino.

Almost 400 clinicians globally have used the TOR-BSST. Martino and her colleagues continue to study new ways of delivering the test and they expect further results later this year.

Why making food easy to swallow is hard
A key treatment for dysphagia is diet-texture modification. Many patients find that soft or liquified foods are easier to swallow, but the best consistency for each patient is highly variable. As well, there is no globally accepted way to name and describe texture-modified foods, which has led to poor communication among patients, caregivers and families, and undermined treatments.

In 2013, international experts from several health professions came together to develop a common terminology for texture-modified foods and instructions for simple methods to test food and drink consistency. The group – the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) – published a framework in 2015, and soon after several countries made implementation plans.

New Zealand became the first country to adopt IDDSI in January, and Canada and the U.S. are on track to implement early next year.

“For people with swallowing issues, food and liquid are like medication, and they come with some of the same risks. Getting diet texture wrong can kill,” says Catriona Steele (pictured left), who is a professor in the department of speech-language pathology, an IDDSI board member and a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in University Health Network. “Inside the hospital, we don’t treat the kitchen with the same reverence as the pharmacy.”

Steele says the IDDSI framework will bring much more attention to dysphagia diets, but that kitchens and food manufacturers that prepare food for dysphagia patients in Canada have a lot of work to do before roll-out. For example, labels on commercially available products need to change. Moreover, there are still major knowledge gaps regarding which consistencies are best for patients with different conditions.

“Liquid behaves one way in a person with an intact system but may not behave the same in someone with stroke or head and neck cancer,” says Steele, whose lab has studied the physiology of swallowing since 2003. “So clinically, people have been making educated guesses. We’ll collect data for IDDSI on particular measurements in specific conditions to guide clinicians down the road.”

In another project, Steele and colleagues at the University of Waterloo recently looked at nutrition in seniors at 32 long-term care facilities in Canada. The study, called Making the Most of Mealtimes, found that texture-modified foods contribute to malnourishment, in part because people eat less of them and puréeing changes nutrient density.

“People prescribe these liquids with good intentions in terms of safety, but they might be creating a negative cycle that leads to malnutrition,” says Steele, although she points out that researchers are trying to improve the nutrition of these foods through supplements.

Another challenge in seniors and others with dysphagia is the emotional aspect of food.

“We all love to eat, so dietary changes can be very threatening to people. And there are many possible reasons for negative emotions around food,” says Steele. “Early in my career, I worked with Holocaust survivors, for example, and modifying food texture had particularly negative associations for them. So we need to do this carefully and only when justified, and that’s not the standard of care at present.”

A guide to treating the young
Children with swallowing problems can be especially hard to diagnose, in part because the potential reasons for feeding issues are many: feeding aversion secondary to gastrointestinal reflux, sensory issues in autism, problems with muscle weakness or co-ordination in the face or neck, cardiac or respiratory conditions, and lack of appetite from medications, to name a few.

Moreover, many strategies that clinicians use in adults will not work in the pediatric population for developmental reasons. For children with developmental difficulties, swallowing problems are very common and upsetting for families. Up to 80 per cent of these children have some kind of feeding or swallowing impairment.

Treatment for children with developmental challenges is complex, and often demands a team of health professionals that may include a physician, speech language pathologist, developmental paediatrician, occupational therapist, physical therapist, dietitian and nurse.

The clinical feeding and swallowing team at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital provides comprehensive expertise to patients with developmental challenges at the hospital. But they also share their knowledge with colleagues at community hospitals, clinics and individual community practitioners, who often face a knowledge gap when trying to address dysphagia in children with developmental issues.

To that end, the swallowing team at Holland Bloorview and the hospital’s Evidence to Care group recently developed a handbook, Optimizing Feeding and Swallowing in Children with Physical and Developmental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. The handbook provides a hierarchical and integrated approach to guide practice, and highlights key considerations clinicians might face.

“There was a lack of clear summaries of the scientific evidence available across disciplines that presented information in an accessible, efficient way for a broad group of community clinicians who may need to care for children with feeding and swallowing impairments,” says Deryk Beal, an assistant professor in U of T’s department of speech-language pathology and clinician scientist at Bloorview Research Institute.

The guide has been a huge success. Viewers have downloaded it more than 4,600 times since it appeared online in June last year, in more than a dozen countries and every Canadian province. The University of Montreal made it required reading for a third-year occupational therapy course, and a survey by Holland Bloorview staff found many users praised the guide for its clarity and relevance to practice.

Clinicians say they use the guide in several ways – as a quick-reference tool when seeing patients, when sharing knowledge with colleagues, and for on-boarding new staff and teaching students. Many users like the guide’s interprofessional focus, which enables them to better understand the perspectives and treatment options that professionals in other fields can bring to cases.

“We know feeding and swallowing is a specialized area of medical care and a lot of people working in the community may not have received specific training in some elements of the care they’re providing,’’ says Andrea Hoffman, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and developmental pediatrician at Holland Bloorview. “This handbook helps give them a framework to gather information and determine the important elements of the assessment from a range of disciplines, so they can make the best recommendations and most appropriate referrals to provide optimal care.”

Hoffman and her colleagues recently published two quick-reference handouts based on the guide, and also plan to create client-centred resources for families.

April, 2018|Oral Cancer News|

UK cancer patient receives new jaw thanks to 3D printing

Source: http://www.3ders.org/
Author: staff

3D printing techniques are being adopted with increasing regularity in surgery of all kinds, and more and more patients are seeing a hugely improved quality of life thanks to the unique benefits of the technology. The most recent success story took place in the UK, where a patient’s jawbone was entirely reconstructed using bone from his leg. The pioneering surgical procedure made use of 3D printing at various different stages.

Stephen Waterhouse was diagnosed with throat cancer eight years ago, and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy in order to fight it. The treatments were a great success and his cancer went away, but they had an unfortunate side effect. His jawbone had started to crumble, and emergency surgery was required before it completely disintegrated. The 53-year-old was taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital, which had purchased a new 3D printer just two years previously.

Costing the hospital trust around £150,000 (about $188K), the machine is the only one of its kind in the country, and was a crucial part of the effort to save the patient’s jawbone. A 3D model was designed from a scan of his remaining intact jaw and printed out as a mold, which was then used to reconstruct the jaw using bone taken from his fibula. The operation lasted around 12 hours and was a great success.

According to Daya Gahir, consultant in maxillofacial and head and neck surgery, the hospital does “at least 40 major head and neck reconstructions per year. Around 10 to 15 cases will be done in this way using the printer.” The procedure is very intricate, and the hospital’s purchase of the 3D printer has revolutionized the way his team operates. “Some of the leg bone was taken then reshaped, as you have to replace bone with bone. We took away some of the skin from the leg as well and replanted it back into the neck. A face is not easy to reconstruct, it is intricate.”

New software for the 3D printer was developed last year, which allows the whole process to be planned and carried out within the hospital. Without this, Stephen may have had to travel to Germany for the operation to be completed, according to Gahir. Using the 3D printer in this way saves a lot of time and effort for patient and medical team alike, as well as cutting costs. Around £11,000 is saved for each case by carrying out the whole surgical process on-site.

Stephen is still in recovery and has praised the care he is receiving from staff, as well as the effectiveness of the surgery. “I am so pleased with the results,” he says, “you can’t tell the difference between the two sides of my mouth.”

March, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Artificial larynx implant helps throat cancer patient breathe and speak

Source: www.ctvnews.ca
Author: staff

Sixteen months after receiving an artificial larynx, a 56-year-old French man suffering from throat cancer can now whisper and breathe normally. A report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine considers this to be a significant first achievement.

Thanks to the implant, a 56-year-old throat cancer patient can now whisper and breathe normally. © ChrisChrisW / Istock.com

Thanks to the implant, a 56-year-old throat cancer patient can now whisper and breathe normally. © ChrisChrisW / Istock.com

This is the first time that doctors have observed a patient with the implant long term recover functions such as breathing and speaking after the complete removal of the larynx. Thanks to an artificial voice box, implanted in 2015 at France’s Strasbourg-Hautepierre university hospital, the 56-year-old Frenchman, who lives in Alsace, can now whisper in a comprehensible manner and breathe normally.

The patient has also recovered his sense of smell, which was damaged by the removal of the larynx. Other than the vocal cords, the larynx features an upper valve, called the epiglottis, which closes when food passes down the throat to prevent it from entering the windpipe.

The prosthetic larynx was developed by a French company called Protip Médical. It consists of a rigid titanium and silicone structure replacing the larynx and a removable titanium part that mimics the function of the epiglottis.

The only problem that remains unresolved in the implant is the function of the epiglottis. As a result, the patient coughs from time to time when eating, as food accidentally enters the windpipe. However, the surgeons still consider the functioning implant a highly satisfactory achievement.

The current procedure used to return voice function to throat cancer patients involves puncturing the throat to insert a valve allowing air to pass from the windpipe to the esophagus.

A few doubts remain about the long-term effectiveness of the implant. For example, blockages caused by dried out mucus and secretions from the lungs and nose could be a risk. Another concern is the risk of rejection, particularly in cancer patients who have undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatments.

As for patient comfort, further testing will establish how the mobility of the patient’s neck is affected by the presence of a rigid tube in the throat.

“This implant is constantly evolving and the next patients will benefit from substantial improvements,” notably to improve the passage of food down the throat, said lead researcher Nihal Engin Vrana.

Each year more than 12,000 new cases of throat cancer are diagnosed in the U.S.. Larynx transplants remain extremely rare worldwide and are generally used in cases unrelated to cancer, which represent a small majority.

Source: The report is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

January, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Google and UCLH to develop AI to improve cancer therapies

Source: www.phgfoundation.org
Author: Julian Harris

Google’s Artificial Intelligence research group announced a new partnership with University College London Hospitals, applying machine learning to radiotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer.

Abstract, Electronic circuit network grunge background

The new partnership is the third since the launch of DeepMind’s health division in February 2016.

The partnership aims to assist clinicians in the segmentation process – designating which areas of the body to target with radiotherapy – which in the case of head and neck cancer is highly time consuming, taking around four hours. The agreement will give DeepMind access to the anonymised scans of around 700 patients, as well as the expertise of UCLH’s world leading team at their specialised head and neck cancer centre.

Google DeepMind hopes to utilise machine learning to make the planning of radiotherapy treatment more efficient and reduce the duration of the segmentation process. Ultimately , clinicians will still be responsible for deciding on treatment plans, but the reduced workload will free up their time to focus on patient care.

If successful, the team hope that they will be able to adapt their segmentation algorithm to other parts of the body and other cancers which can also be treated with radiotherapy.

Machine learning continues to be a promising new area of health technology, with the potential to provide novel solutions to a range of problems in healthcare. In the UCLH press release, the Co-Founder of DeepMind, Mustafa Suleyman said that “this real-world application of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is exactly why we set up DeepMind… We hope this work could lead to real benefits for cancer patients across the country and for the clinicians who treat them.”

September, 2016|Oral Cancer News|