Understanding Tongue Cancer
- Tongue cancer survivor Stanley Tucci is teaming up with S. Pellegrino to give away a $10,000 Italian vacation
- Tongue cancer, though rare, has killed almost 2,000 people so far in 2022.
- HPV has been linked to the development of tongue cancer. Rates of HPV have fallen dramatically since vaccines were approved in 2006.
“Summer is such an important time for people to relax but in America, we do not allow ourselves the time to really get away,” he told PEOPLE. “You can still get as much accomplished but you can spend time with family.”Read More
The winner and 10 runner-ups will also get a summer’s supply of S. Pellegrino and S. Pellegrino Essenza.
Tucci had previously teamed up with the beverage maker for a digital TV ad and the limited edition “Stan Pellegrino” bottle set engraved with his signature.
“I’ve been drinking Pellegrino for years. It is very much a part of my life just like the Italian lifestyle is a part of my life,” says Tucci.
As there can be only one winner, Tucci also offered up a favorite recipe from growing up in a New York Italian-American family. He noted that the key to flavor is using only the best, most fresh ingredients.
“When I was a kid we ate a lot of corn on the cob and crabs in the summer, it was the best,” he says. “Also, my mom would make a pasta dish where you take fresh tomatoes, quarter them and let them marinate in basil, olive oil and a bit of garlic. Then you take that and add hot pasta with some ricotta, goat cheese or parmesan. It is delicious.”
Stanley Tucci’s Cancer Battle
Tucci knows something about savoring life, having previously gone through treatment for tongue cancer. The actor said he had undergone two years of jaw pain before doctors found the tumor at the base of his tongue, leading to rounds of both chemotherapy and radiation treatment in 2017. The actor said he felt “incredibly lucky” to survive.
“They couldn’t do surgery because the tumor was so big,” he told PEOPLE earlier this year. “It’s a miracle that it didn’t metastasize. It had been in me so long.”
The treatment cost him his ability to eat for several months after it ended in 2018.
Tucci, who has two young children with his literary agent wife Felicity Blunt, has also experienced loss at the hands of cancer. His first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci, died of breast cancer in 2009 at the age of 47.
Understanding Tongue Cancer
Tongue cancer is relatively rare but can still be deadly, according to the National Cancer Institute. While there were only 17,860 new cases of the disease in the United States in 2022, making up under 1 per cent of new cancer diagnoses, tongue cancer still claimed 2,790 lives.
Cancer can occur both on the part of the tongue that is in the mouth as well as the portion that is located in the throat, where it can be harder to detect and may spread into the neck’s lymph nodes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While surgery is often required to remove the cancerous cells, other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and targeted drug therapies. If the cancer is advanced, some of these treatments can affect a patient’s ability to eat or speak, though it’s possible to regain those functions through rehabilitation therapy.
Though not all tongue cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, there is a link.
“From the 1980s to the 2010s, the rate of HPV-related head and neck cancers has gone up by 300 percent,” Dr. Ted Teknos, a head and neck cancer specialist, and president and scientific director of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, told SurvivorNet during a previous interview.
The Importance of the HPV Vaccine
The good news is, there are readily available vaccines for HPV. Those vaccines can be administered to people as young as nine-years-old, according to the Center for Disease Control, though it is usually recommended to be given to children who are between 11 and 12. The vaccines are not usually recommended for people over the age of 26, as they have often already been exposed to the virus, though people that age and older should speak to their doctor if interested in being vaccinated.
Get the Facts: HPV Can Cause Cancer in Men Too
“We have a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HPV-related cancer,” Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, the associate center director of community outreach, engagement and equity at Moffitt Cancer Center, told Survivornet. “It is widely available, and costs are typically covered by private or public insurance.”
Since the HPV vaccines were introduced in 2006, rates of the HPV types associated with the development of cancers and genital warts have fallen by 88 per cent in teen girls and 81 per cent in young women.
The vaccines are incredibly safe, with the CDC listing only minor side effects that can occur after receiving them, such as headaches or nausea.