The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance brings to you its updated and refreshed quarterly e-newsletter.

HNCA News Bulletin

January 2017



April 2 - 9, 2017

Join HNCA for Our Annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week®

If you haven’t already, please be sure to register your screening site today! Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA) is hosting its Annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week®, OHANCAW®, April 2-9, 2017 and looks to another record-setting year.

Since the institution of OHANCAW®, millions of Americans and thousands internationally have undergone free screenings and many lives ​have been saved through early detection and treatment. ​It involves an easy and simple process to host a screening event in your local community. HNCA provides the materials and the screening sites organize the staff and volunteers.

To register your screening site and receive free educational materials for your OHANCAW® screening, click here. Please know that screening sites must be a qualified medical or dental institution to host an OHANCAW® screening.

We will be shipping the OHANCAW® kits in mid-March.

Thank you to all partners and screening sites who have hosted OHANCAW® screening and awareness events. HNCA looks forward to working with all of you in 2017.

The Commission on Cancer has indicated that hosting an OHANCAW® screening will help during its accreditation process as an OHANCAW® screening serves as a community event.

For individuals looking for free screenings during OHANCAW® and at any other time during the year, please be sure to go to locate a screening site in your area by either searching the events calendar or the OHANCAW® screening locations map.

Recipe Card 01:

Savor's Health Sea Bass on the Grill

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 1 (3-pound) whole sea bass, butterflied.
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced
  • ​3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 10 sprigs oregano
  • Additional herbs, for garnish
  • 6 lemon wedges, for garnish

Cooking steps:

  1. Wash and pat dry fish.
  2. Open fish. Spread interior with 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Evenly spread out onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oregano sprigs inside fish. Close fish.
  4. Spread 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil on the skin of the fish, top and bottom, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Wrap fish in foil, leaving an accessible opening at the top so you can check for doneness.
  6. Heat a grill to medium heat, then place wrapped fish on grill. closing top of grill. After 10 minutes, open foil and check fish with a fork. When fish is solid white throughout, remove from the grill. Depending on grill temperature, and thickness of fish, cooking time will vary from 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Open foil. With large, flat spatula, remove fish from foil and place a platter. Place lemon wedges and extra herbs around fish, for garnish.

Savor Health is a provider of personalized nutritional solutions designed specifically for cancer patients and their caregivers.

Take Control…or…Be Controlled

“Hank” Deneski, an 11-year survivor of stage IV inoperable squamous cell carcinoma on the base of his tongue, has an urgent message for others diagnosed with an oral, head and/or neck cancer, “Take control or be controlled.”

Hank, now a motivational speaker and trainer, is Founder of WesternOhio Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Support, and dedicates his time to coordinating five annual FREE HNCA Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness® screenings for uninsured/disadvantaged in Western Ohio. He also directs an extensive awareness and educational program and tirelessly focuses his energies on not only raising needed funds, but works to save lives through promoting early detection and treatment.

Oral, head & neck cancers are often debilitating, and Hank refers to them as an “orphan” cancer because it is not as well publicized like other cancers. Treatment, as he well knows, may result in disfiguring surgery, loss of the ability to eat or speak, and with multiple treatments resulting in difficult, long lasting side effects that may result in a “new normal” in living.

Diagnosed in 2005, Hank’s ENT advised surgery would be debilitating – removal of his tongue, esophagus, and voice box -- creating a nearly impossible recuperation. As a result, both chemotherapy and radiation were prescribed. During all of it, Hank never asked “why me?” but with herculean determination proceeded with “what’s next Doc?"

Forty-eight hours of cisplatin-chemo infusions, 77 radiation treatments, 15 months with a feeding tube, ongoing xerostomia, chemo brain, and neuropathy, other side effects, many which continue to this day, Hank emerged fighting for others as well as himself.

Hank transitioned from a career as sales manager and trainer, utilizing all of his life skills, to his new Mission in Life to educate others, including dental and medical professionals, to provide so many with the opportunity to be screened as well as to support patients, survivors and their caregivers through the treatment process and beyond.

About a year following his own cancer treatments, Hank attended the Support for People with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) Conference in New York where he learned about the lack of support from insurance (dental vs medical) and gained information about support, alternative effective treatments for side effects, and other subjects. This affected him deeply and motivated him to persevere.

Invited to the inaugural LIVESTRONG Summit in Austin, Texas in October 2006, Hank and other delegates brainstormed what survivors need/want to know when diagnosed and throughout treatment. The delegates were challenged to write mission statements they would take home to incorporate into their communities. Hank fulfilled his mission early on by creating an oral, head and neck cancer support program for survivors and caregivers in Western Ohio and instituting free annual screenings to the underserved in Dayton & Montgomery County, Ohio.

Seeing the need for accurate information, regular screenings and healthcare supports, Hank took it upon himself to ensure that people in Ohio’s Montgomery County were afforded these opportunities, as no organizations appeared willing to help.

Survivors in Dayton, Ohio also needed a support system, and Hank then went about establishing the WesternOhio Oral Head and Neck Cancer Support in August 2007. The now 9-year-old group, has approximately 100 members and meets the second Monday of every month. This self-driven group assists and supports each other, hears speakers regarding nutrition, treatment options, caregiving, and other topics.

In 2009, Hank faced another very tough road with emergency surgery for Ludwig’s Angina, resulting in overnight hospital stays, total extraction of all teeth, removal of part of his jawbone, implants, oral prostheses, and 50 hyperbaric dives.

Finding his strength by helping others, Hank continued in his mission to serve and educate the disadvantaged. In April 2011, numerous Ohio oral, head and neck cancers screenings were established with Elizabeth Place’s, The Levin Family Foundation’s Celebrate Life and Health at Sinclair College, and, Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center.

To this day, Hank continues to obtain support from the Oral Cancer Foundation, Head And Neck Cancer Alliance, LIVESTRONG and SPOHNC for materials. He also obtains supplies from local businesses and organized doctors and dentists to perform screenings.

Prior to 2007 and Hank’s commitment, residents of Dayton had nowhere to turn for information, personal support, and FREE screenings for oral, head and neck cancers, especially in the economically disadvantaged areas. To date, there has been a surplus of 1000th FREE screening completed. One quarter of those people required referrals for additional follow-up and others, for actual treatment. Despite their lack of insurance, every person referred for further investigation is provided the sources and resources to get the follow-up and testing they require! Oral, head and neck cancers are the sixth most frequently diagnosed cancer in the country and the need is great, especially with the rise of HPV 16 and 18. Hank has now included Greenville and Springfield Ohio in his efforts.

Hank is passionate in supporting all cancer patients and for the past eight years has sponsored an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team and served as a local committee chair for five years. He has made opening remarks and speeches at numerous Relay for Life events and Survivor luncheons.

In Sept. 2012, Hank was honored as the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation "Champions of Hope" and " Person of Inspiration Award” which recognizes four individuals each year -- caregiver, survivor and medical professional and inspiration. Hank was nominated in both the Survivor and Inspiration categories by HNCA.

Hank continues to volunteer with Imerman Angels, Scott Hamilton Fourth Angel and SPOHNC’s NSV program to counsel survivors of oral and head & neck cancers across the country by phone and email.​ He is an inspiration and now a great source of strength to his 38-year-old niece, currently completing treatment and multiple surgeries for nasopharyngeal cancer.

A man of great faith, he does not wish for himself but works for others’ benefit. A devoted husband of 45 years, he is a proud father of three, a grandfather of eight, and great granddad to four.

Where does the foundation for his strength and determination come from and his ability to take control? At the tender age of 8, Hank suffered from polio. A doctor, standing next to Hank’s hospital bed, informed his parents that he would never be able to walk again without the aid of braces and crutches. Sixty-one years later, this very formidable Hank still runs 5K races and hikes, without any aids.

How Tobacco Use Impacts Prognosis in HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer Patients

Each year, approximately 600,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancers worldwide. A little less than 50% of those patients survive the cancer. Patients older than 60 years of age have a likelier chance to already have a heavy reliance on alcohol and/or tobacco. In the US the number of head and neck cancers caused by alcohol and tobacco are dwindling but there are an increased number of cases caused by HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer in patients younger than 60 years.

With two main risk factors involved, Mount Sinai’s data reported that HPV-associated cancer patient had a higher progression-free survival rate and locoregional control rate than patients that were HPV-negative. HPV-positive patients who were also smoker had slightly lower ratings than non-smokers that were HPV-positive but still significantly higher rating than HPV-negative nonsmokers and smokers.

The data is based on the TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) that is used to perform non-invasive surgery on patients with oral, head and neck cancers. The advanced surgical equipment is proven to successfully improve the management of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer regardless of tobacco usage.

​The team in Mount Sinai have created a series of clinical trials to combat against the rapid increase of oropharyngeal cancer and thyroid cancer patient cases. They have highlighted a few of clinical trials and can be read in one of their latest edition of ResearchFocus.

Head and Neck Cancers and Alcohol: Get the Facts

By Robert S. Pezzolesi, MPH, Founding Director,

New York Alcohol Policy Alliance

There’s been a lot in the news lately about alcohol and cancer. But what about head and neck cancers? Can alcohol play a role in getting head and neck cancers, or in affecting the treatment, quality of life, or survival of people who been diagnosed with those cancers?

In a word: Yes.

According to the most respected experts in cancer research - including the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) - drinking alcohol is a causal risk factor for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. In fact, in the U.S., about 27% of all cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx, and about 34% of all esophageal cancers, can be attributed to alcohol use.

This is why the IARC and AICR, for purposes of cancer prevention, recommend not to drink alcohol. For those that do drink, experts recommend sticking to moderate levels - meaning 1 drink a day or less for women, and 2 drinks a day or less for men. Also, it’s important to remember that those daily limits are not meant to be averaged over several days. “Saving up” drinks for the weekend defeats the purpose of these limits and can be dangerous. Problem drinking – including binge drinking (4 or more drinks in one sitting for a woman, 5 or more for a man) and heavy drinking (8 or more drinks per week for women, 15 or more drinks per week for men) can lead to a range of health and social problems, including cancer risk.

You probably already know that tobacco is another risk factor for head and neck cancers. Tobacco and alcohol consumption, separately, are serious risk factors for getting cancers of the head and neck. Together, their effect is multiplied, so that so that people who both drink and smoke are 35 times more likely to get oral cancer than people who never smoke or drink.

As for those undergoing treatment for head and neck cancers, most experts recommend that people being treated for cancer avoid drinking alcohol, as it can interact poorly with some chemotherapeutic medications and irritate mouth sores caused by some cancer treatments.

The research is somewhat mixed on how drinking alcohol affects survivors of head and neck cancers, including their quality of life, cancer recurrence, and length of life. Some, but not all, studies have found that drinking during and/or after treatment can decrease survival for head and neck cancer patients. Problem drinking has been found to be connected to lower quality of life and greater risk of depression among head and neck cancer survivors.

So what’s the bottom line?

For individuals, when it comes to alcohol, less is better.


Get Involved and Support Our Efforts

YOU have the power to help fund research, raise awareness and advocate for access to care.

Interested in contributing your time or supporting HNCA? We offer numerous opportunities to get involved:

  • Organize an event in your community;
  • Become a Corporate Partner of events and/or patient-focused or clinician education programs;
  • DONATE – your unrestricted gift is key to supporting our mission and the most critical programs – To DONATE online click here.
  • Clinicians – partner with our organization and host a screening in your community.

For more information on the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, click here.

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