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Region’s First HPV Center to Open at Atlantic Health System’s Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute

April 4, 2018

HPV Center will focus on increasingly common cause of oral, head and neck cancers;  Grand opening, screenings, professional ed. programs scheduled

April 4, 2018, Morristown, NJ – Atlantic Health System today announced the opening of the Atlantic HPV Center, part of the Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center.  The Atlantic HPV Center will be the region’s only center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, research and survivorship of human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated cancers.  

The Center’s Grand Opening was held April 4, followed later in the month by oral, head and neck cancer screenings and a professional education program focused on head and neck cancer treatment and HPV.

“HPV is now recognized as a major cause of head and neck cancers,” said James Wong, MD, medical director, Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center.  “For the first time, patients and those who suspect they may have this type of cancer will have somewhere to go to receive care from some of the nation’s most expert, highly specialized physicians and head and neck cancer care teams located at Morristown Medical Center.”

For adults — especially men — understanding Human Papilloma Virus can mean catching cancer early.  Most people in the United States have been exposed to HPV, often early in life.  Published articles report that 80% of the population in the United States may have been infected at one time.  For most people, the body's immune system is able to clear the virus from the body.  As a result, most individuals with HPV do not get cancer.

“In fact, HPV-related cancers of the tonsil region and base of the tongue, or oropharynx, have tripled in the past several decades, making it a leading cause of head and neck cancer,” said Erik Cohen, MD, surgical director, Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center.

These cancers are called oropharyngeal cancers. According to the National Institutes of Health, 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are HPV-related.

Those most affected by HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are white males between the ages of 40 and 60, who often have no obvious risk factors for cancer. While these cancers used to occur mostly in older men, recently there has been an increase in those in their late 30s, 40s and 50s. Women are also affected, but at a much lower rate.

Grand Opening Celebration

The Grand Opening Celebration was held Wednesday, April 4, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Main Lobby of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Morristown Medical Center, 100 Madison Avenue, Morristown, NJ.  

The evening kicked off with presentations by some of the HPV Center’s expert physicians:

  • Welcome: Erik Cohen, MD, medical director, Head and Neck Surgical Oncology,Atlantic Center for Head and Neck Surgery and surgical director, Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center

  • Advances in Surgical Approaches: Tom Thomas, MD, MPH, director, Head and Neck Reconstructive Surgery and Transoral Robotic Surgery, Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center

  • Innovations in Radiation Oncology:  James Wong, MD, medical director, Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Center and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center

  • Innovations in Clinical Trials and Immunotherapy:  Missak Haigentz, MD, medical director, Hematology and Oncology at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center  

Light refreshments were served.  A ribbon cutting ceremony followed the program.

Screenings Scheduled for April

Free oral, head and neck cancer screenings will be held in April, in recognition of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Month.

“Most of these cancers can be cured with minimally invasive surgical techniques and other treatments with few side effects, if detected early,” said Dr. Thomas, who will conduct the screenings.  “I strongly encourage anyone with risk factors or potential symptoms to get screened.”

Symptoms of oropharyngeal cancers are often vague, and might include a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, lump on the neck, earache, pain when swallowing and unexplained weight loss. Some people do not exhibit any signs or symptoms. 

Screening dates and locations are:

Screening registration is required.  Contact 1-800-247-9580 or Headandneckcancer@atlantichealth.org

Professional Symposium

On Saturday, April 28, 2018, 7:30am to 1:00pm, a multidisciplinary team of head and neck oncology experts will present updates, practice changes and the latest advances in the treatment of head and neck cancers at the Malcolm Forbes Amphitheatre of Morristown Medical Center, 100 Madison Avenue, Morristown, NJ

The professional symposium, “Updates in Head and Neck Cancer Treatment in the Era of HPV,” will include presentations on the latest information on HPV and non HPV-related head and neck cancers:

  • Epidemiology and Prevention
  • New AJCC 8th Edition Staging System
  • Updates in Surgery, Radiation and Systemic Therapy, including Immunotherapy
  • Current Clinical Trials

Registration is required.  Call 1-800-247-9580.

About the Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute

The Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute provides care for benign and malignant tumors of the mouth, tongue, larynx, salivary glands, sinuses, skull base, and thyroid.  The Institute is staffed by the most experienced, multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer specialists in New Jersey dedicated to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research and survivorship. 

The Institute’s fellowship-trained surgeons utilize the most advanced minimally invasive techniques when possible, including transoral robotic surgery and endoscopic surgery; advanced reconstructive surgery following Mohs surgery; head and neck endocrine surgery, including thyroid and parathyroid; salivary gland surgery including parotidectomy with facial nerve preservation; skull base; and complex skin and soft tissue tumor surgery. A wide range of non-surgical options includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Institute also offers specialized expertise, diagnostic screenings, education and individualized treatment for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers. Patients receive individualized treatment plans combining integrative medicine, acupuncture and Eastern healing traditions alongside supportive care from specialized oncology nurses, social workers, nutritionists and speech therapists.

For more information about Leonard B. Kahn Head and Neck Cancer Institute or the Atlantic HPV Center, please call 973-971-7352.

About Atlantic Health System 

Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., is an integrated health care delivery system powered by a workforce of 16,000 team members dedicated to building healthier communities. The system is comprised of 350 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital. Atlantic Health System also supports communities through Atlantic Medical Group, Atlantic Rehabilitation, Atlantic Home Care and Hospice, and its subsidiary, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation. Atlantic Health System sponsors the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization, one of the larger ACOs in the nation, and Optimus Healthcare Partners.