Ilana Nikravesh
Mount Sinai Press Office
(212) 605-5973
[email protected]

Mount Sinai Doctors Promote Early Detection and Announce New Research

Newswise — (New York, NY- April 4, 2018) – April is Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and physicians in the Mount Sinai Health System are urging high-risk groups to get screened and providing tips on early detection.

Oral, head, and neck cancers are among the most increasingly common cancers in the country. They occur in the tongue, tonsils, and throat, as well as the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid, and salivary glands.  According to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, there will be more than 650,000 new cases of these cancers worldwide in 2018, which could lead to more than 14,000 deaths in the United States.  

Men are at higher risk of contracting oral, head, and neck cancer; in fact, they’re affected twice as often as women.  Tobacco use and excessive drinking are major contributors, especially for male patients over the age of 50.  However, cancers of the oropharynx (tonsil and base of tongue) are dramatically increasing among younger men who don’t smoke, because of the human papillomavirus (HPV).  HPV cases make up roughly 70 percent of all tonsil and tongue-base cancers in the country and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 16,000 HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed yearly in the United States.

“The treatment of head and neck cancer generally includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, depending on the cancer. While many different treatment options exist depending on the stage and type of cancer, one thing is clear: early detection leads to higher cure rates and improved outcomes for all types of head and neck cancer,” says Brett Miles, MD, Co-Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System, and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It is very important to get screening if you are in a high-risk group, namely smokers, moderate to heavy alcohol users, and those who have a history of oral sex with multiple partners. These are the groups at highest risk for head and neck cancer.”

FREE Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screenings: No registration, appointment, or preparation required.  Done in conjunction with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

Screening takes 15 minutes, and includes an examination of the neck and inspection of the oropharynx and the mouth.

  • Thursday, April 12, 10 am – 2 pm  - The Mount Sinai Hospital (Guggenheim Pavilion, 1468 Madison Avenue at 100th Street)
  • Learn about screening studies for high-risk HPV.


  • Smokers generally develop head and neck cancer in their 60s.
  • Men are twice as likely to be affected because of smoking patterns and HPV risks.
  • For HPV-related throat cancer, non-smoking males ages 35 to 55 are at highest risk, although doctors are starting to see more cases in women.
  • Initial symptoms of oral, head, and neck cancer include a sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal, sore throat, trouble swallowing, lumps or patches in the mouth, changes in voice, and a lump in the neck.
  • 50 percent of people with head and neck cancers have very advanced cases by the time they first see a doctor. 
  • A lump in the neck that does not go away may be a head and neck cancer, even without other symptoms such as pain.

Tips for Prevention:

  • Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Don’t drink alcohol frequently or heavily or combine with tobacco use.
  • Limit sun exposure and regularly use sunscreen, including lip balm with a strong SPF.
  • Reduce your risk of HPV infection by limiting the number of sexual partners—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.

Breakthrough High-Risk HPV Screening Study

In April, investigators from the Head and Neck Cancer Research Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai plan to team up with colleagues from Johns Hopkins University to launch a breakthrough clinical trial to better understand how risk factors affect oral HPV infection rates.  This study is the first of its kind and will screen patients who may have been exposed to high-risk HPV, but have no evidence of cancer.  Currently there is no screening for head and neck HPV, but this research aims to change that by determining which patients have been exposed to high-risk HPV and need closer follow-up.

The multisite study, called MOUTH (Men/Women Offering Understanding of Throat HPV), will take a sample of at-risk patients and screen them for evidence of exposure to high-risk types of HPV.  Researchers will take samples of their blood, saliva, and urine to test them for HPV antibodies. If they test positive for high-risk HPV antibodies, they will be monitored annually for the next five years of the study, and given information on signs and symptoms that may indicate an HPV-related cancer. The goal of the study is to examine the natural history of HPV exposure, and how different behaviors affect the risk of acquiring high-risk HPV infection.

“We are very excited to be participating in this groundbreaking study, and hope that in the future the information obtained from this study allows us to thoughtfully screen and counsel patients on their risk of head and neck cancer related to high-risk HPV,” explains Dr. Miles.

Mount Sinai is currently looking for additional candidates to join the clinical trial. Criteria are as follows:

  • Men ages 35-69
  • Women and/or partners of women with known cervical dysplasia
  • Partners of patients who have HPV and oropharyngeal cancer
  • Three or more oral sex partners in their lifetime
  • Never had head or neck cancer
  • Willing to come back for annual follow-up visits if positive for high-risk HPV

For more details please visit:

Mount Sinai Expands Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Services to Queens

The Mount Sinai Head and Neck Institute has expanded its services to Mount Sinai Queens.  The new office is the only location in Astoria to offer comprehensive oral, head, and neck cancer care.  Doctors here can diagnose, treat, and provide follow-up care to patients with these cancers in one location.  Mike Yao, MD, an Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is now part of this office, and is the only head and neck surgeon bringing this expertise to Astoria, Queens.  

“Patients in Queens deserve to have high-quality medical care without travelling to Manhattan, and our brand new offices and state-of-the art operating rooms provide that level of care for the community in a convenient location,” explains Dr. Yao. “Many of our patients can now walk to their appointments from surrounding neighborhoods, and they appreciate the smaller, more personal feel of Mount Sinai Queens while getting exemplary care from our physicians.”

All Mount Sinai Head and Neck Institute locations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.

For more information on the Mount Sinai Head and Neck Institute, see the link below:

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 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. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of 3 medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools”, aligned with a U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” Hospital, No. 13 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in four other specialties in the 2017-2018 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in six out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology and 50th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. For more information, visit, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.