Health & Wellness

Doctors at Morristown Medical Center Draw Attention to Head and Neck Cancer; Offer Free Screenings

MORRISTOWN, NJ – April is Head and Neck Cancer Month and the doctors at Atlantic Health System are looking to build awareness around these types of cancers.

“Head and Neck cancer doesn’t get a lot of celebrity publicity like breast cancer and other cancers,” said Dr. Tom Thomas director of head and neck reconstructive and transoral robotic surgery at Morristown Medical Center. “People are aware of these other types of cancer, but not many people are talking about head and neck cancer.”

To draw attention to these cancers, Thomas and his staff organized three days of screenings during the first week of April. More than 75 people participated.

Sign Up for E-News

It used to be that heavy smokers and drinkers in their late 40s and early 50s got head and neck cancer, Thomas said. However, in the past 15 years there’s been a shift: People in their late 30s early and 40s are increasingly getting tonsil and throat cancer.

“HPV infection related oral cancer is significantly increasing over the last decade,” Thomas said. “It is much more common in educated white males, and more men are affected than women. My goal is not to say no to anyone who wants to get screened.”

The screenings took ten to 15 minutes each and focused on the participants’ personal and family history as well as an examination by a doctor.

Thomas, who came from The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, is looking to introduce an interactive piece to the Atlantic Health System website where people can ask questions. For now, anyone with questions can email him directly at headandneckcancer@atlantichealthsystem.org. He said he will answer all questions himself and make referrals as necessary.

According to Atlantic Health’s website, some signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer include a sore throat that won’t go away, frequent trouble swallowing, ear pain, a change in voice, multiple sexual partners and a history of high risk behaviors.

“Our goal is to Increase awareness, diagnose early, treat quickly and get them (the patients) out,” Thomas said.

But what happens when treatment is finished? That is a question being asked by Dr. James Wong chairman of the Head and Neck Cancer Institute.

“We do the standard treatment, surgery, radiation and new immunotherapy that everyone does,” Wong said. “However, we have an exciting new program that is now focusing our attention to multimodalities. Our focus was on how to save their lives. But we are learning that there are a lot of side effects from the treatment.”

Wong said doctors “used to say, `Congratulations Mr. Smith, we just got your scans and there is no evidence of disease. We will see you in three months.’ And we pretend that everyone is fine, that everyone is happy. Doctors go home to congratulate themselves for saving another life. The patient is supposed to be happy. But we now think that these people have a lot of problems.”

Wong said some patients have physical and emotional problems after treatment as well as trouble eating, loss of taste and sore mouths. So doctors at the Institute are turning their attention to what happens after the patient is cured.

Working with The Chambers Center for Well Being, Wong began a pilot-program where patients go through a 10- to 12-week course that incorporates different modalities like acupuncture, diet, acupressure, meditation, stress management, exercise and yoga.

 “This isn’t standard medicine,” said Wong. “Some of these modalities can influence the immune system. We are just starting to understand the difference between mental and physical and how they come together.”

Under Thomas and Wong, the Head and Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center looks at the whole well-being. Three patients went through the pilot program so far.

“We are getting good feedback from the patients who have gone through the pilot program,” said Laura Bogert, patient coordinator at the Head and Neck Cancer Institute. “The program is a little sampler of other modalities and we are finding that everyone benefits.”

When asked about the future of head and neck cancer treatment, Wong smiled somewhat mischievously and said, “Stay tuned … We have something that, if we get it going, will change all medicines.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Hanover/Florham Park

Florham Park Prepares for the Fourth

Its time for one of Florham Park's shining moments. The Fourth of July parade is not only the kick of to summer, it continues the legacy of being among the oldest Independence day celebrations in New Jersey. this year the festivities are set and the schedule of events is as follows;

9:00am  Flag raising ceremony at the Florham Park Fire House

9:30am  Parade begins on ...

Important Message for Florham Park Residents Regarding the Fourth of July

Important July 4th Celebration Reminder - Please be advised in the interest of safety and security, the entire parade route will be CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC beginning at 8:30am on July 4, 2018. This will impact residents who live along the parade route and all of the side streets that connect to the parade route. (Please see the map attached to this post)

Please ensure that you plan accordingly ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

July 12, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...

New Jersey Average Gas Prrice Down Slightly; Record Holiday Travel Week Underway

Florham Park, N.J.- The average price at the pump in New Jersey is $2.88 today, one cent cheaper than last week ($2.89), according to AAA Northeast’s weekly survey of fuel prices. Today’s average price is 13 cents cheaper than one month ago ($3.01), but 60 cents higher than it was on July 2, 2017 ($2.28).

 

AAA’s July 2nd survey of ...

LBI Summer Soiree "Boardwalk Nights" on Friday, August 10 at the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club to Benefit David's Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation

BEACH HAVEN - On August 10, the inaugural LBI Summer Soiree “Boardwalk Nights” (formerly Island Gala) will take  to the breathtaking Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club on Friday, August 10 to benefit David's Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation.

The LBI Summer Soiree is brought to you by key supporting company D. Finelli Construction. David Finelli was ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Education Giving Back Law & Justice

Tue, July 17, 7:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Organically Yours: a wellness experience with ...

Carousel_image_79d791602b5680d23c85_original

Tue, July 24, 7:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Meet the Author: Lucy Tan

Arts & Entertainment

17 Fascinating Facts About Rutgers Athletics

July 10, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For all the critics of the athletics program at New Jersey’s largest public university, there are more than a dozen reasons to cheer for successes of the sports programs and teams on the playing fields, in classrooms and beyond.

Here are 17 on the field and off the field things this took place this past academic year at Rutgers University:

1. Rutgers had four ...

Obituaries

Beverly Jean (Charlton) Weimar, of Ship Bottom, and Florham Park, New Jersey passed away on March ...
Read more

Education: A Bedrock of Democracy, Civic Engagement and Economic Prosperity

July 5, 2018

More than 240 years ago, our nation’s founders envisioned a country where individuals could forge their own destinies and not be constrained by the circumstances of birth. The essential concept was that people could govern themselves and participate in democracy, or what Benjamin Franklin and others called “a great experiment.” The vision was bold and has flourished as the ...

Kessler Foundation Seeks Volunteers for Important Breast Cancer Study

July 12, 2018

Researchers at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, NJ are studying new ways of combating breast cancer-related weakness & fatigue. These symptoms can diminish quality of life & often last long after treatment has ended. If you are a woman aged 40-75, who was diagnosed with breast cancer within the past 10 years*, you may qualify for this important research study.

We are ...