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Radiation and chemotherapy remain the first line of attack against head and neck cancer – unfortunately they don’t always work and surgery becomes a necessity.  Even there though technology continues to provide major advances with robotic surgery looking good. The article below is a beginner’s introduction to the technique, followed by a bit of HPV caused cancers and a reasonably novel fundraising idea.

(The illustration is of the APOBEC3 enzyme mentioned in story 2.)


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Throat cancer: New surgical technique helps you recover faster

(Virginia. U.S.)Robotic surgery is opening new doors in the treatment of head and neck cancer as some patients are able to avoid radiation and chemotherapy – if the disease is caught early. WVU Medicine otolaryngologist Rusha Patel, MD, discusses the benefits of robotic surgery for throat cancer.

What is robotic surgery?
Trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS) is a type of minimally invasive surgery used to operate on areas of the throat with precise robotic instruments. This surgical approach uses a guided endoscope (a tubular instrument that can look deep into the body) to provide 3D images of tumors in the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils. These tumors were previously challenging to reach with traditional tools.

When is robotic surgery used?
The most common use of TORS is for early cancers in the throat or voice box. TORS is especially helpful for operating on areas at the tonsils and back of the tongue where HPV-related cancers tend to occur. In some cases, TORS may be used to get biopsies from areas in the throat that are difficult to reach. Some patients have benign (noncancerous) growths in their throat, and TORS is useful for examining and operating on them.

What are the benefits?
With TORS, you can avoid external incisions, and your recovery period will be shorter compared to traditional open surgery. Our robotic system gives us access to hard-to-reach areas of the mouth and throat, and TORS makes it possible to operate on tumors that would otherwise need a much longer and riskier surgery. If head and neck cancer is caught early, TORS has the ability to treat cancers in these areas surgically, potentially limiting or avoiding radiation and chemotherapy.

Is robotic surgery safe?
TORS has been FDA approved since 2010, and it is used in many hospitals around the country with a high safety record. The surgeon is always in first command of the robotic system, much like how a pilot navigates an airplane. The robotic instruments are extensions of the surgeon’s own hands, and each motion is controlled by human action.

Full story:

Why Does HPV Cause Cancer? New Research May Have The Answer

(Colorado) We know that certain behaviors and environmental factors can lead to cancer, such as smoking and exposure to pollution, but new research suggests that sometimes the body’s own immune response to a virus may lead to cancer-causing mutations. The research is still in its early stages, but if it holds over the course of further testing, it could lead to more effective cancer prevention methods.

The study, from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, showed that enzymes created by the immune system in response to an invading virus may cause cancerous mutations, Gen News reported. According to the research, an enzyme called APOBEC3 is released in response to a viral infection and works by scrambling the virus’ DNA in an effort to disable it. However, it may also scramble the person's DNA as well, increasing the risk of cancer. This hypothesis may help to explain why infections with human papillomavirus (HPV) often lead to cancer.

In their study, researchers showed that the APOBEC3 enzyme caused mutations in genes involved with about 40 percent of HPV-positive head and neck cancers, but only 10 percent of head and neck cancers not related to HPV.

Full story:

Bark For Life

 (LIHUE U.S.) —Bark For Life is a fun, ACS fundraiser that honors the benefits of pets and the relationship between dogs and their owners while raising money to help cancer patients and fund research.

Everyone is encouraged to come out. People participate for various reasons: To honor the unconditional love of canines, celebrate cancer survivorship, honor people and pets lost to cancer, and fundraise in support of the American Cancer Society’s mission of eliminating cancer in hopes that one day no one will ever have to hear the words “you have cancer.”

“Everyone will make new dog and human friends at this fun event,” according to a press release.

Registration is $25 for one canine and its human companion, $40 for two, or $100 for a team of five. Those who do not have dogs but want to support Bark For Life may come for the fun and donate.

Full story:



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