Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dramatic jump expected in HPV-linked cancers

Prediction: Big increase seen in human papillomavirus-related throat cancers for males

The number of middle-aged men who'll get HPV-related cancer is expected to experience a big jump in the near future.

HPV is human papillomavirus, the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women.

Dr. Maura Gillison
According to a recent story by Peter Jared in the AARP Bulletin, otherwise healthy men in their 40s, 50s and 60s "are showing up with a form of throat cancer that targets the tonsils and the back of the tongue, an area called the oropharynx."

Each year, the article notes, "oropharyngeal carcinomas are diagnosed in more than 15,000 men and women in the U.S. [but] public health experts warn that the number of cases in men over age 50 will rise dramatically in the coming years."

Men with the cancers already outnumber women by a 4 to 1 ratio, the Bulletin reports.

Dr. Maura Gillison, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center oncologist, was one of the first researchers to determine HPV was the cause of some throat cancers. In 2007 she found, according to the story, "that those with head and neck cancer were 12 times more likely to be infected wth HPV in their mouths and throats than healthy individuals."

The story goes on to say that "shockingly, HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer is projected to overtake cervical cancer by 2020."

Details on medical and research trends and projections can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Debate rages on life following breast cancer

More women choosing to 'go flat,' skip reconstructive surgery after mastectomies

Many more women are now opting to forego reconstructive surgery after having their breasts removed.

Even though insurance would pay for the operation.

Even though reconstruction long has been the standard, with more than 60 percent of eligible women choosing it (106,000 of the procedures were done last year). 

And even though, according to an article by Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times last week, most "plastic surgeons and oncologists aggressively promote breast reconstruction as a way for women to 'feel whole again.'" 

"Going flat" certainly has become a more publicized choice.

Dr. Deanna J. Attai
The Times article quotes Dr. Deanna J. Attai, a past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASPS), to the effect that "Reconstruction is not a simple process. Some women just feel like it's too much: It's too involved, there are too many steps, it's too long a process." 

The "nascent movements to 'go flat' after mastectomies," the piece continues, "challenges long-held assumptions about femininity and what it means to recover after breast cancer" — and flies in the face of the fact that "women's health advocates fought for and won approval of the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, which requires health plans to cover prosthetics and reconstructive procedures."

Rabin's story contends that "up to one-third of women who undergo reconstruction experience complications."

And that "a systemic review of 28 studies found that women who went without reconstruction fared no worse, and sometimes did better, in terms of body image, quality of life and sexual outcomes."

According to the article, Dr. Clara Lee, an associate prof of plastic surgery at Ohio State University who performs the procedure, says "the dirty little secret of breast construction" is that the "risk of a major complication is higher than for the average elective surgery."

In contrast, Dr. David H. Song, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Chicago and the immediate past president of the ASPS, is quoted as saying that focusing on the risk of complications is like focusing on plane crashes when millions of flights land safely.

Both pros and cons of reconstructive surgery are touched upon in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are younger men shunning intercourse?

Men's oral cancer risk leaps 61 percent in four years — because of a shift in sexual habits

The risk of oral cancer in men has jumped dramatically.

Insurance claims from "a database of more than 21 billion privately billed medical and dental claims" show the reasons, according to an article this week by Ariana Eunjung Cha in The Washington Post.

With one of the main causes being "the cascading effect of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the United States."

The American Cancer Society has estimated some 50,000 Americans will be infected this year, with 9,500 dying from the disease.

The Post story, citing a report published by FAIR Health, disclosed that the increase in oral cancer from 2011 to 2015 was a startling 61 percent.

With the biggest increases coming in throat and tongue cancers.

During the period studied, those cancers were three times as prevalent in men as women, the Post piece noted.

In the past, oral cancer was linked mainly to smoking, alcohol use or a combination.

Now, the Post article maintained, changing sexual habits are a problem, with surveys showing "younger men are more likely to perform oral sex than their older counterparts and have a tendency to engage with more partners."

Dr. Gypsyamber D'Souza
According to Gypsyamber D'Souza, PhD., an associate professor in the Viral Oncology and Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health quoted by the Post, "These differences in sexual behavior…explain…why the rate of this cancer is increasing."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month recommended preteens 11 or 12 get vaccinated against HPV, noting that more teenagers and young adults "are engaging in oral sex than vaginal intercourse under the assumption that it's safer."

It's not, of course, unless only the possibility of pregnancy is being considered.

Information about disease prevention can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.