Roger Ebert’s Cancer Rare and Difficult to Treat

Friday, 05 Apr 2013 10:54 AM

By Charlotte Libov

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Film critic Roger Ebert’s long battle with head and neck cancer demonstrates the complexity of treating this relatively rare disease, a top cancer specialist tells Newsmax Health.
 
“Cancers that occur in the head and neck can be very complicated to treat,” says Richard Borrowdale, M.D., division director of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. 
 
Ebert died on Thursday at age 70 after a decade-long struggle against the disease.
 
Head and neck cancers are defined as those that arise in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, or larynx (voice box). They are relatively rare, accounting for 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the U.S. This year, an estimated 53,640 people (39,300 men and 14,340 women) will develop head and neck cancers. It is estimated that 11,520 deaths will occur this year from the disease. 
 
Most begin in the flat squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer (called the epithelium) of the structures in the head and neck, and, if not caught early, can move into the deeper tissues.
 
According to Dr. Borrowdale, symptoms of head and neck cancer include the following:
  • A mass in the mouth
  • A sore on the tongue that doesn’t heal
  • A lump in the neck that doesn’t go away with antibiotics
  • Hoarseness
  • Changes in voice
  • Problems swallowing
 
“Head and neck cancer is usually caused by smoking or drinking, but we are seeing more and more oral facial cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the same type of virus better known for causing cervical cancer,” Dr. Borrowdale told Newsmax Health. Ebert did not smoke.
 
 
“Head and neck cancer is usually treated with surgery or radiation, but in the type that is caused by HPV, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy can be very effective. The tumor almost seems to melt away,” he said.
 
Survival rates for head and neck cancer vary greatly, depending on where the cancer is, Dr. Borrowdale said. “If you look at survival rates for all types, in the past it might have been 50 percent and now it’s closer to 65 to 70 percent,” he said.
 
Because of the complicated nature of treatment, people with head and neck cancers “are better off being treated at an academic medical center, where we see 10 cases a week,” he added.
 
Ebert was not shy about sharing the details of his medical crisis, revealing to fans how he lost his voice and his ability to eat, and showing how surgeries and weight loss had dramatically altered his appearance. But he continued to work almost until his death.
 
Two days before he died, Ebert announced on his blog that he was slowing down his pace, having been diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer in his hip, which he had fractured a few years earlier. According to Dr. Borrowdale, it is not unusual for head and neck cancer to reappear after several years, after chemotherapy has kept it at bay. The spread of the malignancy would have signaled “that the cancer was no longer curable,” he said.
 
 
 

© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Islamic State Group Calls for Attacking Civilians

Monday, 22 Sep 2014 11:05 AM

Fighters of the Islamic State militant group are ready to battle a U.S.-led military coalition seeking to destroy it, th . . .

Alibaba Jumps More Than 40 Percent in Trading Debut

Friday, 19 Sep 2014 12:20 PM

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'sshares surged by more than 40 percent in their first day of trading on Friday as investors j . . .

Whisky Maker Joins Business Peers With Relief at No Vote

Friday, 19 Sep 2014 09:32 AM

Whisky Maker Joins Business Peers With Relief at No Vote . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved