January 6, Rotarian Ed King shared  his personal experience with Head and Neck Cancer, what he has learned about this group of cancers and what he is doing to message others so they can avoid, identify and get proper treatment if necessary. He began his talk by thanking our club members who helped  him get to his treatment at Anschutz in 2014.
The first shared screen was pictures of his treatments - radiation , infusion of monoclonal antibodies and hyperbaric oxygen.  Head and Neck Cancers are squamous cell cancers arising from the mucosal (lining) surfaces of the nose, throat, tongue and salivary glands.  In the US the prevalence is 53,000 cases/year and men are currently 2x more likely to have this cancer than women.
Symptoms are many and varied so it is important for patients and family to be their own advocates by getting early diagnosis and proper care. A partial list of presenting symptoms includes -  persistent white patches, unexplained lumps, persistent pain or bleeding.  Currently, ENT care in NOCO is excellent.
There is no standardized screening for ENT cancers but large mass screenings are planned for the future in NOCO and southern Wyoming.  Male gender is a risk factor as mentioned, and Latinos and Afro-Americans are at increased risk as well.  The suicide rate for persons with these cancers is the highest of all cancer groups.  Some factors for this may be the facial disfigurement and other chronic problems (pain, bone loss, loss of salivation) associated with therapy.
Treatment options are surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.  Given that 70% of patients are HPV + , recommendations for early vaccination against this virus have been expanded from 11-12 year old girls  to boys and most recently to young adults.
Ed finished with the details of his personal journey.  In spite of being a non-smoker, not a heavy drinker and HPV negative, ED presented in August 2014 with lesions on the tip of his tongue and neck. He was treated with radiation and antibody infusions. He had a gastric tube inserted prior to therapy to ensure adequate nutrition because appetite, chewing and swallowing are usually affected during radiation. In spite of this Ed lost over 30 pounds during treatment.
As with many cancer treatments, success often comes with a new syndrome or syndromes - the side effects of therapy.  Ed has suffered bone loss in his jaw, tooth loss and damage to his salivation.  Further treatment for these side effects has included 40 days of hyperbaric oxygen, oral surgery and saliva enhancement techniques.
Not one to bask in his remission,  (and a Rotarian as well) Ed has been active in promoting early diagnosis, starting support groups , teaching the public, mentoring patients and reaching out to medically underserved groups in NOCO.