HPV

Screenings Help Catch Head and Neck Cancers

head and  neck cancer screeningsA recent study reported in JAMA Otolaryngology found that most Americans know little to nothing about head and neck cancers and could not name the most common symptoms and risk factors. This is a problem. If you wait months or even years to get a sore in your mouth or swelling in your neck checked by a doctor, you could be ignoring a sign of head and neck cancer that’s progressing. And, as with many other forms of cancer, the earlier a head and neck or oral cancer is diagnosed, the less invasive the treatment is and the higher the chance of cure. As a doctor who sees many patients with these cancers, one message comes through loud and clear: don’t ignore symptoms.

On April 17th, doctors and staff with Emory’s Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery will hold a free head and neck screening at Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM). This is a chance for patients who might be suffering any symptoms or have any of the stated risk factors for head and neck cancer, to have a simple, free exam. This involves a physical exam of the neck and inside the mouth, including the middle throat, soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils. As a best practice, Emory Healthcare suggests this screening procedure should also be a part of a routine dental visit.

Get a Free Head and Neck Screening on April 17th:

Emory University Hospital Midtown
Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
9th Floor, suite 4400
550 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

Date: 4/17/2015
Time: 8:00 AM- 12:00 PM

This is a first come – first serve walk in clinic. No Appointment Necessary.

For more information:
Phone: (404) 778-3381
Email: meryl.kaufman@emoryhealthcare.org

Important Information on Head and Neck Cancers:

Head and neck cancer involves skin or mucosal surfaces of the head and neck and includes cancers of the mouth, throat, nasal sinuses, skin of the head and neck and cancers of the major salivary glands. Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3% of cancers diagnosed every year in the United States and affect more than twice as many men as women.

Symptoms of head and neck cancer vary somewhat by site but often include non-healing ulcers in the mouth, unexplained loosening of the teeth, and pain that does not improve. Patients with cancers of the throat or salivary glands will often come in with a painless lump in the neck that does not resolve with antibiotics. Other patient will have ear pain or difficulty and/or pain when swallowing.

Potential Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer:

Head and neck cancer has historically been most associated with tobacco and alcohol abuse, and may also be associated with marijuana use. Recently, the human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus commonly passed during sexual activity, has been widely implicated in cancers of the tonsils and base of tongue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV usually goes away by itself and does not cause health problems, but may be responsible for a growing number of oral cancers. Other risk factors include poor oral hygiene, radiation exposure, and Epstein-Barr Virus (Mononucleosis).

Every year, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance promotes an awareness week in April that is highlighted by free head and neck cancer screenings all across the country. Our own free screening at EUHM is open to anyone in the community and we enthusiastically invite you to participate. We look forward to providing you with the opportunity to proactively advance your health on April 17!

About Dr. El-Deiry

Mark El-Deiry, MDMark W. El-Deiry, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, in the Emory University School of Medicine. He also serves as Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology, and Director of the Head and Neck Oncology Surgery Center. He is a member of the surgical team that specializes in treating patients with head and neck cancers including complex microvascular reconstructive surgery.

El-Deiry and the entire head and neck team are interested in promoting screenings that help detect head and neck cancers in early stages. His research interests include quality of life in head and neck cancer survivors and quality outcomes involved with treating patients with advanced stage head and neck cancer.

Related Resources

Takeaways from Dr. Saba’s Head and Neck Cancer Chat

HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancers on the Rise

HPV and Head and Neck Cancer Chat

HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancers on the Rise

Head Neck CancerHead and neck cancer causes almost 200,000 deaths each year and is now recognized as one of the major health concerns both in the United States and worldwide. In particular, there has been a noted increase in the incidence of oropharynx cancer (OPC), mainly tonsil and base of tongue cancers, that are linked to infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV).

According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the US and more than half of sexually active people are infected with one or more HPV types at some point in their lives. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment over the course of a few years. However, HPV infections sometimes persist for many years and can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.

The human papilloma virus 16 (HPV16) infection linked to oropharynx cancers is a sexually transmitted virus that seems to affect mostly young Caucasian males. Traditionally the non-HPV related head and neck cancers are strongly linked to smoking, but patients with HPV related cancers are usually not tobacco users. HPV-related head and neck cancers are a distinct disease entity which has particular molecular, epidemiological, and clinical characteristics. Multiple studies have shown that HPV-related oropharynx cancers are easier to cure compared to the head and neck cancers caused by tobacco and alcohol use, but smoking still seems to affect the chances of curing patients with HPV related OPC. There is also recent evidence suggesting that smoking is linked to a higher risk of having HPV-related OPC.

Still, sexual transmission of HPV is believed to be the main risk factor for HPV-related head and neck cancers and oral sexual behavior has been linked to an increased risk of HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. For example, studies have shown the odds of developing oral HPV infection among a group of college-aged men increased with increases in the number of recent oral sex partners or open-mouthed kissing partners, but not vaginal sex partners.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two vaccines that are highly effective in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18. Because research clearly shows that vaccination makes a difference in preventing cervical cancer, which is very closely linked to HPV-16, the HPV vaccine has been recommended for girls aged 11 to 12. There is also a more recent recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for boys of the same age to receive the HPV vaccine. Even though vaccination for HPV-related oropharynx cancers has been an active area of research, the implementation of such an approach is still limited.

For the majority of cancers of the head and neck that do not originate from the area of the oropharynx (non-OPC), HPV does not seem to be a significant risk. However, of interest, HPV is still apparently linked to some patients who have non-OPC. The significance of this link is not clearly known and more studies are needed to understand the role of HPV in patients with non-OPC.

About Dr. Saba

Nabil Saba, MDNabil Saba, MD, FACP, is a nationally recognized expert in the treatment of head and neck and esophageal cancer. As principal investigator on several head and neck cancer trials, he has initiated studies focusing on novel approaches for treating these diseases. Dr. Saba is a member of the ECOG Head and Neck Cancer steering committee, and an elected member of the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS). He also serves on the American College of Radiology appropriateness criteria panel for Head and Neck Cancer.

Related Resources

Takeaways from Dr. Saba’s Head and Neck Cancer Chat
Local Firefighter Stomps Out Head and Neck Cancer