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Importance of swallow exercises during throat cancer treatment

In the past decade, there has been a significant increase of “throat” cancers (tonsil and base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma) in younger patients, especially in non-smoking, Caucasian males. This type of cancer is caused by the high-risk HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and tends to have a better cancer survival than conventional tobacco-related throat cancers. This improved survival is aided by precision targeted radiation and transoral robotic surgery (DaVinci Robotic System). However, some of the side effects of these treatments can cause ...

Lemtrada is FDA approved for people with relapsing MS

On November 14, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) who have responded inadequately to two or more MS drugs.  Lemtrada is already approved in over 40 countries around the globe including the EU, Canada and Australia.

The FDA approval of Lemtrada is a significant milestone for people living with relapsing MS.  Lemtrada demonstrated superior efficacy over Rebif on annualized relapse rates in two pivotal randomized Phase III open-label rater-blinded studies in patients with relapsing remitting MS which were the basis for approval.  The clinical development program for Lemtrada involved nearly 1,500 patients including patients at the Swedish MS Center with more than ...

Treatment options for hemifacial spasm

Hemifacial spasm is the involuntary contractions of the muscles of the face, those innervated by the facial nerve (VII). The facial spasms are intermittent and occur on one side of the face only. Hemifacial spasm can involve the upper or lower half of the face and may progress to involve the entire half of the face. The intensity and frequency of these symptoms can increase over time and can persist even during sleep. Hemifacial spasm can be associated with vestibular dysfunction and cochlear dysfunction.
 
Hemifacial spasm is usually more common in women. The most common cause of hemifacial spasm is ...

Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) for achalasia

P.O.E.M. has come to Seattle at Swedish Medical Center.  No, not the kind that rhymes but one that is elegant in its own way.  Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy or POEM is relatively new procedure used in the treatment of achalasia, which is a disorder of the esophagus due to degeneration of the nerve network within the walls of the esophagus.  The diseases leaves patients with little propulsive power to push food toward and into the stomach as well as causing the “valve” at the top of the stomach to remain closed.  This makes it difficult for patients to eat or drink.   Patients may need to drink a lot of fluid to get food to pass into the stomach whereas others may feel pain or discomfort after eating and still others may have undigested food come up many hours after eating or when lying down.
 
The treatment for achalasia is ...

How to deal with gas and bloating

We all have occasional gas, usually from something we have eaten, but many people feel that they pass too much gas or burp too frequently. Intestinal gas can result in abdominal pain, bloating and embarrassment.
 
The amount of gas produced by the body depends upon your diet and other factors. Most people with symptoms of excessive gas do not produce more gas than the average person, but are more aware of normal amounts of gas.
 
Where does the gas come from?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Head and Neck Cancer

Cancer of the oropharynx (throat) has undergone a drastic and dramatic change over the last decade.  In the past, most throat cancers were linked with prolonged cigarette smoking and alcohol use.  Now, the occurrence of throat cancer is rising and 80-90% is likely caused by an infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV).  Many high-profile personalities, including actor Michael Douglas, have recently revealed that they have experienced HPV-related throat cancer.

What causes HPV-related Oropharynx cancer?

Infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is known to cause genital warts and lead to various genital cancers, but now it appears to also cause the majority of throat cancers.  The types of HPV that lead to throat cancer are generally sexually transmitted, though some researchers believe that even kissing may result in HPV transmission.   The time period from HPV exposure to the development of a throat cancer is often decades. Although the cancer may be slow-growing, it is important to have annual check-ups with your physician and dentist who can assess your oral health appropriately. 
 
How is HPV-related Oropharynx cancer treated?


HPV-related throat cancer can ...

Mesothelioma update: shorter course of treatment and improved survival rates?

There have been some very exciting recent developments we (the Thoracic Surgery team at Swedish Cancer Institute) are utilizing in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Over the past year we have offered some of our patients deemed appropriate for surgery a more streamlined approach to their overall care. Previously we have tried to offer chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation to all patients who were healthy and strong enough to undergo the three treatments, as mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer requiring aggressive treatment to optimize survival. This new approach still offers both surgery and radiation, but chemotherapy is given only to those found to have cancer in lymph nodes in the center of chest during surgery.

The advantages of this new treatment paradigm are ...
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