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 Like

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Battle of Short Hills Set to Unfold at Oak Ridge Park

June 20, 2017

CLARK, NJ - Union County residents and visitors can partake in a once-in-a-lifetime experience this Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, when hundreds of uniformed men, women and children stage a re-enactment to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the 1777 Battle of Short Hills.

The two-day event covers everything from dramatic clashes with British regulars to the ...

Millburn Police Department Investigating Multiple Burglaries to a Motor Vehicle

June 20, 2017

On June 13, 2017 Millburn Police Officer Nacim stopped a 2000 Toyota Camry at Essex/Lackawanna for being unregistered and having a brake light out. The 21 year old driver, Tyre Graves out of Irvington, was placed under arrest on an outstanding Irvington criminal warrant.  Mr. Graves was issued summonses and turned over to the Irvington Police Department.

On June 13, 2017 Millburn Police ...

One More Trenton Raid?

June 21, 2017

June is budget month in Trenton; the Governor and state Legislature are seeking to balance the budget in a challenging fiscal situation. Unfortunately, environmental funds top the list of places to find“extra” money to balance the budget.

Just a few months ago, with strong bipartisan support, the state Legislature acted to give voters the opportunity to protect natural resource ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_69982c79ebaa59580998_edd1b0e024441d375f9e_handssquare

Sun, June 25, 11:00 AM

South Mountain Reservation, Millburn

Down the Block Family Fun Hike

Carousel_image_01e37271d11ea8c09753_cb5650fe352ff73f5107_unnamed__16_

Tue, June 27, 8:00 AM

Millburn

Millburn Farmer's Market

Carousel_image_829d2c3161ea42e6fe29_065ffe32d8ac18f60aa8_best_ffef0cd0403475009f34_img_2937

Thu, June 29, 10:30 AM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Tai-Chi for Seniors Summer Class at Millburn ...

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_01e37271d11ea8c09753_cb5650fe352ff73f5107_unnamed__16_

Tue, July 4, 8:00 AM

Millburn

Millburn Farmer's Market

Summer Tennis Lessons Available for Ages 3 and Up

June 22, 2017

The Millburn Recreation Department and the US Sports Institute are offering Summer Tennis Lessons at the Millburn High School tennis courts for ages 3 through adults during the months of June, July and August.  Lesson programs start at $70.00 and registration closes soon.  Lesson programs are available in group, private or semi-private categories.

For further information Click Here ...

Advisory: School’s Out, Drive Safe

Advisory: School’s Out, Drive Safe

WHO: State legislators, local elected officials, advocates and experts

WHAT: The 100 days of summer are the most dangerous days of the year on the road. School’s Out, Drive Safe serves as a reminder for drivers, pedestrians, bike riders and all users of New Jersey’s roads to use caution and care when out and about this summer with the ...

The Hudson Shakespeare Company presents Taming of the Shrew at Millburn Library on June 22, 2017 at 7pm

Come join the Hudson Shakespeare Company at the Millburn Library on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 7pm for their presentation of The Taming of the Shrew.

The Hudson Shakespeare Company is bringing this play back to its roots; 'The pleasant garden of great Italy' where all the great young scholars have arrived to study, learn, seek their fortune, and fall in love. Being part of a ...

Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce Seeking Candidates for Board of Directors

Millburn, NJ – The Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce is seeking candidates to be considered for serving on the 2017-2018 Board of Directors.  Candidates who are interested in furthering the Chamber’s mission with their time, energy, expertise and passion should complete the required on-line survey by April 19.

Rick Davis, President of the Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of ...