Working together against oropharyngeal cancer

By | August 9, 2017

10788C_MDAnderson_LI_1200x627The American Dental Association (ADA) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have joined together to combine their efforts to prevent oropharyngeal cancers through educational outreach to increase HPV vaccination rates.

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of cancers of the oropharynx (throat: the tonsils, base of tongue/lingual tonsil) related to human papillomavirus (HPV) particularly among middle-aged men. These cancers typically cause no symptoms in the throat and patients are usually made aware of the problem by feeling a painless mass in the neck, which represents spread of the cancer from the throat. Because these patients already have an advanced staged cancer at presentation, they typically require extensive treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy which results in multiple major oral and throat acute and long-term side effects.

The ADA and MD Anderson Cancer Center are synergizing their efforts to end tobacco use, the principal cause of oral cavity (mouth) cancers. The organizations are hosting a symposium on oropharyngeal cancer entitled “Working Together Against Oropharyngeal Cancer,” to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 18, preceding ADA 2017 – America’s Dental Meeting in Atlanta.

Speakers from the ADA, MD Anderson, and the CDC, will present the latest on the rising epidemic of oropharyngeal cancer and the global impact of HPV-related cancers, the potential for the HPV vaccine and eliminating tobacco use to prevent cancer, an update on emerging techniques to treat oropharyngeal cancers, and an overview of the major long-term side effects of current therapies. Key components of the symposium will focus on opportunities for dentists and other providers to enhance oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancer prevention and earlier diagnosis as well as to facilitate treatment of these cancers and management of treatment side effects.

A panel of survivors will bring a face to oropharyngeal cancer and relate their personal experiences in the cancer continuum from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship along with their straight forward advocacy for HPV vaccination and ending tobacco use.

We invite all related medical professionals to join us in the conversation. Register today at

This article was written by Erich M. Sturgis, MD, MPH, Professor, Tenure, Department of Head & Neck Surgery and Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Professor, Tenure, Joint Appointment, Department of Epidemiology, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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