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Number of cancer survivors to increase exponentially

June 29, 2017

For Caldarella, the burns, fatigue, and swallowing problem went away with weeks of therapy. But like many patients, Caldarella continues to have dryness of the mouth and throat. That is a common problem, according to Dr. Cognetti. "Radiation kills the tumor, but it also kills the salivary glands."

Caldarella slowly began to feel better in late fall 2010. He gained 15 pounds of the 65 pounds that he lost. And on November 11, he was told he was cancer-free. "I was so thankful. Now I'm beginning to get my life back."

Caldarella says he has a message for others. "HPV-related throat cancer has no signs or symptoms in most cases. When you see or think something may be wrong, act fast. After finding the lump, I saw a doctor right away. Acting fast and having good health helped me."

Dr. Cognetti says the most common symptoms of throat cancer include throat pain, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, bleeding in the mouth or throat, hoarseness, and a lump in the neck. He also says that decades can elapse between HPV infection and the appearance of cancer.

As for prevention, Dr. Cognetti says there are two vaccines currently approved for prevention of HPV-related cervical cancer. "It is not yet known whether the vaccines will protect against throat cancer, but the same HPV strains that cause cervical and vulvar cancer cause throat cancer."

Caldarella, who is single, credits his parents and loved ones for giving him strength. Calling them "David's Army," he says their support was the basis for him to create something positive to help other cancer patients. He is paying it forward with a foundation called "Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation." It started with a pizza party, which raised $15,000. Checks have already been distributed to individual patients as well as to Jefferson's Head and Neck Cancer program.

Source Thomas Jefferson University Hospital