Mouth and throat cancers are the fastest rising cancers today. They account for over 40,000 cases per year in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 121,790 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed in 2015 and 14,240 deaths. These numbers include tongue cancer, throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV, voice box cancer, melanoma of the face and thyroid cancers. April 12-18 is Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week®. Mount Sinai experts are sharing tips on prevention and urging the community to get screened.
It is now well known that the human papillomavirus (HPV) has emerged as a leading cause of cancer of the tonsil and tongue, particularly in non-smokers and younger age groups. Over half of tonsil and base of tongue cancers are linked to HPV. Other mouth and throat cancers have been linked to smoking and alcohol use.
“Promising new research shows that people with oropharyngeal cancer caused by HPV who receive active treatment can survive considerably longer than those who are not treated, even if the disease has spread to other organs in the body,” said Brett Miles, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Assistant Professor of Dentistry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Catching the disease early through screening is crucial.”
FREE Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screening at The Mount Sinai Hospital on Thursday, April 16 at 1468 Madison Avenue, Guggenheim Pavilion-Atrium
•Most head and neck cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck.
•Tobacco use, alcohol use, and human papillomavirus infection are important risk factors for head and neck cancers.
•Typical symptoms of head and neck cancers include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice.
•Regular follow-up care is an important part of treatment for patients with head and neck cancers.
Tips for Head and Neck Cancer Prevention
•Avoid marijuana use.
•Use sunscreen regularly, including lip balm with an adequate sun protection factor (SPF).
•Reduce your risk of HPV infection by limiting the number of sexual partners, since having many partners increases the risk of HPV infection. Using a condom cannot fully protect you from HPV during sex.
•Maintain proper care of dentures. Poorly fitting dentures can trap cancer-causing substances in tobacco and alcohol. Denture wearers should have their dentures evaluated by a dentist at least every five years to ensure a good fit. Dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and rinsed thoroughly every day.
Experts Available for Interview
Dr. Brett Miles, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Assistant Professor of Dentistry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Miles is co-Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery at the Department of Otolaryngology at the Mount Sinai Health System. He has extensive expertise in head and neck oncology/microvascular surgery – including robotic surgery – at the Multidisciplinary Center for Head and Neck Cancer, providing patients with state-of-the-art care for head and neck diseases and complex oral maxillofacial conditions.
Patients Share Their Experience/Available for Interview
Brian Lowery, a Long Island native, had a persistent dry throat, coughing and difficulty swallowing. A CT scan relieved the need for further investigation. A biopsy confirmed a tumor the size of walnut at the base of his tongue. Experts at the Center for Head and Neck Cancer at Mount Sinai used minimally invasive robotic surgery and novel organ-preserving therapeutics to treat Walsh's cancer. “I am so grateful to the team at Mount Sinai,” said Walsh. “I am now cancer free thanks to them.”
Donnie Walsh, former President of the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks and an oral cancer survivor, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 18th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week®. Walsh has had a 37-year career in the National Basketball Association, including coach of the Denver Nuggets and high-level administrative positions with the Pacers and Knicks. In 2008, Mr. Walsh was diagnosed with stage 1 tongue cancer. Following a surgical resection procedure, which required removal of the affected part of his tongue, the cancer has been kept under control. “An abnormal growth on my tongue was first spotted during a routine dental appointment, and I am fortunate and grateful that my cancer was detected and diagnosed early enough for me to undergo a relatively simple surgical procedure,” said Mr. Walsh. “My experience has taught me the importance of early detection and I encourage everyone to get screened for oral, head and neck cancers by taking advantage of the free screenings offered at Mount Sinai and other sites.
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