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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.

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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 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.”

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Sparta Police: Traffic Stop Ends with Weed Arrest

March 22, 2018

SPARTA, NJ-  A man from Monroe, stopped for having an expired registration for his red four door Chevrolet ended up facing drug charges.  On March 17 around 2:13 p.m. Sparta Cpl. Dan Elig pulled over Mark Kern, 25, police report.

When the officer spoke with Kern he smelled burnt marijuana.  Kern admitted to Elig there was a half smoked marijuana cigarette in the car, which he ...

Sparta Police Scoop Up Three on Outstanding Warrants

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On March 20, around 7:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley stopped 25-year-old Newark resident Crystal Dejesus for a broken tail light on her silver Toyota.  Finley found Dejesus had an outstanding warrant from Alpine Municipal Court, police ...

Sparta Police: Car Crash Leads to Warrant Arrest

SPARTA, NJ –  A car going too fast for the snowy road conditions crashed on Route 15.  No one was injured in the one car crash but the driver, Melvin Pineda-Castro of Plainfield, 27, was taken into custody.  On March 13 around 6:30 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin arrived at the scene, according to police.

Pineda-Castro had lost control of his black Honda CRV, hit ...

Mis-management At Presby Threatens the Future of the Garden

March 22, 2018

Dear Editor,

It is with concern that I bring this subject to the attention to all who care and treasure the Presby Memorial Iris Garden, which along with the cherry trees of Branch Brook Park is one of the crown jewels of the Essex County Park System.  This historic garden founded 90 years ago by Frank Presby on  Upper Mt. Ave. is known internationally for its collection which ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, March 27, 7:30 PM

Council Chambers, Sparta

Sparta Township Council Meeting



Sat, March 31, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

NEW DATE - UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sat, April 21, 9:00 AM


Earth Day Cleanup

Giving Back

Newton Police: Third Pedestrian Struck By Motor Vehicle this Year

March 23, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—A Hamburg woman is the third pedestrian to be hit by a car in Newton this year.  Newton Police department responded to the accident at the intersection of Spring Street and Madison Street on Friday, March 9 around 12:33 p.m. police say. 

Police found Michele Krasnomowitz, 50, sitting near the marked crosswalk on Madison Street being assisted by witnesses. Matthew ...

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Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

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4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

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AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video.


Career Exploration Club for Middle School Students

March 24, 2018

Explorer Club 15, chartered to the Sussex County YMCA, will be an informative 8 week program.  Middle school students will explore a variety of careers.  What is the real world experience of working in this career?  How to prepare to enter a career and succeed?  Expert speakers will share their experience.  Expected fields to include: Law, Medicine, Engineering, ...