NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 28, 2011) - Did you know that there has been a dramatic shift in throat cancers over the past forty years? The Mount Sinai Medical Center has been hard at work researching the reason: The Human Papillomavirus (or HPV), a sexually transmitted infection affecting more than 20 million Americans, has become the cause of about twenty-five percent of throat cancers in the United States, a number that has doubled since 2004 and continues to rise. Throat cancer, which was typically associated with the "smoker/drinker" population, is now rising substantially in younger, otherwise perfectly healthy men. Additionally, it is important to note that the risk for developing HPV-related throat cancer increases five-fold in people who have had more than five oral sex partners. As you can imagine, many questions are raised: "How do you screen for something like this? I thought HPV was a concern only for women who are worried about cervical cancer?" That is where the doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center and their colleagues at ENT Allergy and Associates come into play. These innovative minds are working to stem the rising tide of throat cancer by raising awareness about screening and treating patients in a way that benefits them most, not just survival, but quality of life survival.
Meet Phil Keane: In the spring of 2010, the 52-year old husband and father of three was shaving when he found a lump on the side of his neck. After several tests, he was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. Phil recalls, "I never felt healthier in my life, I was probably running 5 miles a week, I play basketball 2 days a week, and I was playing baseball." The cause of his diagnosis came as a second shock -- he didn't understand but did find comfort in knowing that the survivability from HPV-related throat cancers is much greater than that of throat cancer typically associated with smoking and/or drinking.
Instead of a traditional 12-15 hour surgery, Dr. Eric Genden, Chair of Otolaryngology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, completely removed Phil's tumor using a minimally invasive robotic technique available at only a handful of medical centers around the world. Four days later, Phil was home with his family. He then received radiation treatments over the next few months. Dr. Genden notes, "It would have been very, very different, even four years ago, and now you take a young guy who has the next 40, 50 years of his life to enjoy life and enjoy the quality of life, and it's all really the result of bringing good people together and testing new hypotheses to again set that standard of care." Phil remembers, "It just seemed like they had their finger on the pulse of what was going on and that was exciting to me. As horrible as it was that I was what they were talking about, it felt amazing to be part of that kind of energy. And I just knew I was in the right place."
Although there are still so many unanswered questions about HPV-positive throat cancer, it is important to take the necessary steps needed. "If you're with someone that's HPV positive, it's very reasonable to see your ENT doctor, even if you don't have any symptoms. If there is something, there are things we can do to move things along, but the key is early detection. Don't be afraid of this, embrace this," notes Dr. Jonathan Aviv, Clinical Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at ENT and Allergy Associates.
For more information on the groundbreaking research happening at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, and to hear more about Phil Kean's heroic battle, visit: www.leadershiptocure.com