Posts Tagged ‘neck cancer symptoms’

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.

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

Thanks to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, June 24, for our live online chat on “Risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for head and neck cancer” led by Nabil Saba, MD, Chief of Head and Neck Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), head and neck cancers account for approximately three percent of all cancers in the U.S. During the chat, Dr. Saba addressed some of your questions relating to risk factors, symptoms and the latest research for head and neck cancer. See all of Dr. Saba’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer? How do I know if I need to go get checked out?

Nabil Saba, MDDr. Saba: Symptoms include having a lump in the neck, persistent changes in your voice over time, difficulty swallowing, and unusual pain in the neck/throat area (pain that doesn’t seem to get better with time). These are some common symptoms, so if you’re experiencing any of these, it would probably be a good idea to talk to your physician.

 

Question: Are there particular factors or traits that may pre-dispose a person to head or neck cancers?

Nabil Saba, MDDr. Saba: There are certain well-defined risk factors for head and neck cancer, including a history of smoking or alcohol consumption. It has also been observed that HPV-related oropharynx cancer is increasing in Caucasian males, whereas oral tongue cancer seems to be increasing in Caucasian females. While there is an increased risk of head and neck cancer in these groups of people, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are at high risk if you fall into one of these groups.
 
If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. You can also visit www.emoryhealthcare.org/cancer for more information on cancer treatment at Winship at Emory.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer ChatHead and neck cancer includes a collective group of cancers occurring in the head or neck region, ranging from the nasal cavity and sinuses, to the back of the throat, including the oral cavity, tonsils, base of the tongue, nasopharynx, hypopharynx and larynx.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), head and neck cancers account for approximately three percent of all cancers in the U.S. Studies show that these cancers are more common in people over the age of 50 and three times more common in men than in women; however, if diagnosed early, head and neck cancer is often curable.

Recently, a growing number of cancers occurring in the base of the tongue and tonsils have been linked to human papillomavirus (HPV), which is already a well known risk factor for cervical cancer in women. HPV-related head and neck cancer is a distinct type of cancer and so far has been diagnosed more in men than women.

Join Nabil Saba, MD, Chief of Head and Neck Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, as he hosts a live chat on “Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancer.” Dr. Saba will be available to answer all of your questions such as:

  • What are the known risk factors linked to head and neck cancer?
  • What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?
  • How is head and neck cancer diagnosed?
  • Can head and neck cancer be prevented?

Chat Details:

Date: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Time: 12:30- 1:30 pm EST
Chat Leader: Dr. Nabil Saba
Chat Topic: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancer

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