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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Can erectile dysfunction drugs ( Cialis, Viagra ) cure head and neck cancer?

Preliminary studies at John Hopkins suggest that an erectile dysfunction drugs (e.g. Cialis, Viagra) can stimulate the immune systems of patient’s with head and necks cancers so they can better battle cancer cells. This is interesting information because it is a new approach of treatment with agents so far not used to treat cancer.

Studies performed so far were test tube ones done in blood samples collected from patients. Although the results are promising, clinical studies are needed to evaluate if the administration of erectile dysfunction drugs can be helpful in treating head and neck cancers.

A new study demonstrate that Cialis (tadalafil) augments general and tumor-specific immunity in patients with head and necks cancers and has therapeutic potential in head and necks cancers. Evasion of immune surveillance and suppression of systemic and tumor-specific immunity is a significant feature of head and neck cancer development. This study demonstrates that a PDE5 inhibitor, tadalafil, can reverse tumor-specific immune suppression in patients with head and neck cancer, with potential for therapeutic application.

These results are very preliminary and more research is needed.  However, they offer hope for new type of treatment in the future.

Are individuals with human papillomavirus associated head and neck cancer still carrying the virus in their throat after treatment?

Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection a virus spread during oral sex is now the main cause of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in people under 50. Oral HPV infection is a concern for patients with HPV-positive HNSCC and their partners. Recent studies showed that the virus can stay in the throat of patients with NNSCC associated with the virus even after the cancer is treated by radiation and surgery.  (Agrawal et al, Clinical Cancer Research 2008). However, most individuals with the oral HPV virus infection do not develop cancer. After treatment, cases with HPV16-positive tumors had an estimated 14-fold increase of oral HPV16 infection when compared to cases with HPV16-negative tumors. The odds of a diagnosis of an HPV16-positive versus negative HNSCC increased with lifetime number of oral sexual partners.

This finding illustrates that many patients with this type of cancer are still carrying the virus in their body and can potentially spread it to others. However, since this virus is very prevalent in individuals ( can be found in almost half of adults ) the significance of this information is unclear.

The effect of the introduction of HPV vaccination (introduced to prevent cervical cancer) to girls and boys on the potential of development of HNSCC is unknown at present and requires further studies.

Oral HPV infection