Doctor Adam Jacobson, the surgical oncologist, is the point guy in all of this. He’s also the one who will slit my throat after radiation treatment to take out any residual malignancy in the lymph node area. He calls me on Friday afternoon to give me the news of two test results.
FINAL BIOPSY PATHOLOGY
First, the final pathology results of the biopsy show HPV is positive. If I’m ever glad to have a virus, it’s in this situation. In short, HPV caused cancer supposedly responds better to chemo and radiation, therefore improved chances for cure.
HPV or Human Papillomavirus, is family of viruses. Although this virus is fairly common these days, and can remain in the body for years and go away on its own, there are certain types of higher risk strains that can develop into cancer, the most common being cervical cancer in women. There has been a growing number of infections that have manifested in men as cancers of the neck and base of tongue. Although smoking and drinking is the number one cause of throat cancer, a not so distant second is HPV in men. Apparently, I was lucky enough to have this high risk virus that manifested itself as base of the tongue cancer.
The connection with the women’s cervical type is kind of like a foot-in-mouth analogy. Kind of. Regardless, it could have been there for years, and takes years to develop into cancer. I’ve certainly lived in enough suspect places in the world, although this is a first-world virus. Anyway, at this point it’s good news because it improves the chances of recovery by about 25% over non-HPV causes. It sure is weird to feel good about having a virus, but in this case….
PET CT RESULT
Second, he tells me that the results of the PET CT scan show nothing abnormal below the neck. No cancer activity in lungs, liver, etc. The cancer activity is limited to the tumor in the base of tongue/neck area. Also good news.
Thanks Doctor Jacobson, with the way the throat has been hurting, and now the inner ear, this good news is more than welcome.
Now if my throat will hold up this weekend, and the weather will do the same, perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to do the New York City century ride on Sunday.