Mount Sinai Experts and Patients Share Their Tips and Stories for Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

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Mount Sinai Physicians Urge Public to Attend Free Local Screenings

Research has shown that patients who have oropharyngeal cancer caused by HPV and receive timely treatment survive considerably longer than those who are diagnosed later in the disease process.

Oral, head, and neck cancers are among the fastest rising cancers today. Each year they account for more than 110,000 new cases in the United States and 550,000 cases worldwide, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. These numbers include tongue and throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as other forms of cancer caused by tobacco use. April 10-16 is Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week®. Mount Sinai experts are sharing tips on prevention and urging the community to get screened.

"Research has shown that patients who have oropharyngeal cancer caused by HPV and receive timely treatment survive considerably longer than those who are diagnosed later in the disease process," said Brett Miles, MD, DDS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Catching the disease at the earliest possible stage is crucial for good outcomes and improved survival, although fortunately, we now have several novel treatment strategies which can help patients survive considerable time even in advanced stages of the disease."

Free Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screenings: No registration required. Screening takes 15 mins., and includes an examination of the neck and inspection of the oropharynx and the mouth.

  • The Mount Sinai Hospital (Guggenheim Pavilion-Atrium of the Annenberg Building/1468 Madison Avenue at 100th Street) Thursday, April 14, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Mount Sinai Beth Israel Phillips Ambulatory Care Center (10 Union Square East, 2nd Floor) Tuesday, April 12, 10 am – 1 pm


  • Most head and neck cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck.
  • Tobacco use, alcohol use, and human papillomavirus infection are important risk factors for head and neck cancers.
  • Typical symptoms of head and neck cancers include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice.
  • Regular follow-up care is an important part of treatment for patients with head and neck cancers.

Tips for Head and Neck Cancer Prevention    

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid marijuana use.
  • Use sunscreen regularly, including lip balm with an adequate sun protection factor (SPF).
  • Reduce your risk of HPV infection by limiting the number of sexual partners, since having many partners increases the risk of HPV infection. Using a condom cannot fully protect you from HPV during sex.
  • Maintain proper care of dentures. Poorly fitting dentures can trap cancer-causing substances in tobacco and alcohol. Denture wearers should have their dentures evaluated by a dentist at least every five years to ensure a good fit. Dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and rinsed thoroughly every day.

Experts Available for Interview

  • Brett Miles, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Assistant Professor of Dentistry at The Mount Sinai Hospital, Co-Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery at the Department of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai Health System
  • Marita Teng, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at The Mount Sinai Hospital and member of the Head and Neck Institute
  • Joel Portnoy, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, ENT and Allergy Associates

Patients Available for Interview

Karen Andolino: Nurse practitioner Karen Andolino knew something was amiss when a stubborn tongue lesion persisted. She sought nine consultations – all of which resulted in misdiagnoses. “It was diagnosed as a cancer that doesn’t typically present in the mouth – malignant fibrous histiocytoma (formerly known as fibrosarcoma),” Karen recalls. “It’s an aggressive type of sarcoma typically associated with a poor prognosis.” After surgery to remove 19 lymph nodes from her neck performed by Dr. Marita Teng, Karen was back to work in three weeks and is elated with her care and recovery. “Dr. Teng is the epitome of what every surgeon should be,” she boasts. “Her bedside manner, compassion, and skills are unsurpassed. I’ve even recommended someone else to her. She has hands of God – she gave me a second life!”

David Benedict: It wasn’t uncommon for David Benedict, a middle school teacher, to lose his voice. His ear, nose and throat doctor, Joel Portnoy, MD, of ENT and Allergy Associates biopsied his vocal fold. Diagnosed with cancer of the larynx, he underwent six weeks of aggressive radiation but the treatment was not working. That’s when he saw Brett Miles, MD, DDS, who told him about a new, innovative surgery that uses a laser to remove the cancer without damage to the his vocal cords. He is now cancer free and very grateful. “Without Dr. Miles, I would not be able to continue as a middle school teacher and not be able to tell my wife and son how much I love them!”

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals in Geriatrics, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, and Gastroenterology, and is in the top 25 in five other specialties in the 2015-2016 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel is ranked regionally.

For more information, visit or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week®, coordinated by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, is a week dedicated to promoting education, prevention, screening and early detection of mouth and throat cancers. OHANCAW is highlighted by free screenings held at participating medical centers across the country. The 18th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week will be held April 10 – 16, 2016. Bristol-Myers Squibb has provided funding for free screenings as part of the company’s support of OHANCAW. For more information, please visit the OHANCAW website at

About the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance
The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA), created in 1984 as the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, is hoping to reduce incidence and increase survival through these efforts. Its mission is to advance prevention, detection, treatment and rehabilitation of oral, head and neck cancer through public awareness, research, advocacy and survivorship. Through united and collaborative efforts, HNCA provides support to head and neck cancer patients throughout the year, supports ongoing research in head and neck oncology and educates children and adults in the disease process, treatment and prevention of oral, head and neck cancer.


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Lucia Lee
Mount Sinai Health System
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