Understanding Throat Cancer
- Former Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamra Judge recently shared an update on how her ex-husband Simon Barney is doing amid his continued throat cancer battle: “He’s doing OK.”
- The couple divorced in 2011, but Judge has continued to support Barney through his cancer battle because she knows what it is like; in 2017, Judge revealed she was diagnosed with melanoma.
- It is much more common to know someone who has throat cancer now-a-days than it was several decades ago. That is because of the strong connection between throat cancer and HPV.
- Throat cancer is unique in that it is usually preventable with the HPV vaccine. And that is why those eligible should get vaccinated against HPV, SurvivorNet experts say.
“He’s doing OK. He’s doing OK,” Judge said during the Feb. 20 episode of After Show: Watch What Happens Life With Andy Cohen. “I mean, he’s still fighting the fight. He’s doing OK.”Read More
When he opened up about his throat cancer diagnosis, Barney told People: “I’m going to fight it with a smile and a laugh, and I’m going to beat it. It’s whatever my destiny is.”
Before Barney shared his diagnosis with the world, he told Tamra Judge in November 2019. The news prompted her to leave the Real Housewives of Orange County after 12 seasons.
“I was a wreck,” Judge told People about how she felt when Barney shared the news of his diagnosis. “Everyone knew something was going on with me, but I wasn’t telling anyone because Simon had asked me not to. I just wanted to get away from the show and get away from the press and get home to my family.”
The couple was married for 13 years before they split in 2011. They have three children together: daughters Sidney, 23, and Sophia, 16, and son Spencer, 21.
Tamra Judge’s Skin Cancer Battle
In August 2017, Tamra Judge lifted her short-shorts to show a small lesion on her left butt cheek and shared a sobering message with her Instagram followers.
The star wrote: “I’m showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like. I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save YOUR ASS and get your skin checked.”
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Melanoma starts in the same cells that give your skin, hair and eyes their color. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is a more dangerous form of skin cancer because of its ability to spread to other organs more rapidly if it is not treated at an early stage.
Changes to a mole you have had for a while or a new growth on your skin could be signs of melanoma, according to SurvivorNet experts. Though it is unlikely these marks are cancer, you will want to keep an eye on them and let your doctor know about any changes you notice.
Thankfully Judge told her doctor about the mark, because she wrote on Instagram that she never suspected her “small black flat freckle” was cancerous.
Understanding Throat Cancer
A few years after Tamra Judge’s skin cancer diagnosis, Simon Barney shared his own diagnosis; he was battling stage 3 throat cancer.
Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer; cancerous cells begin in the throat, voice box or tonsils, causing throat cancer.
It is much more common to know someone who has throat cancer now-a-days than it was several decades ago. That is because of the strong connection between throat cancer and the human papillomavirus, or HPV — the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is unknown what exactly caused Barney’s throat cancer, but HPV may cause more than 90% of throat cancers.
“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 vast majority of humans in the United States — both men and women — will eventually get infected with HPV, according to Dr. Allen Ho, a head and neck surgeon at Cedars-Sinai.
“The important thing to know about HPV is that there are many different strains, and only a couple of them tend to be more cancer-inducing,” he said. “Probably less than 1 percent of the population who get infected happen to have the cancer-causing virus that somehow their immune system fails to clear, and over 15 to 20 years it develops from a viral infection into a tumor, and a cancer.”
It is unclear whether HPV alone is enough to trigger the changes in your cells that lead to throat cancer or whether this happens in combination with other risk factors like smoking. Of course, some people who develop throat cancer have no known risk factors for the condition. Genetics can play a role in this cancer, too.
Throat cancer is unique in that it is usually preventable with the HPV vaccine. And that is why those eligible should get vaccinated against HPV, SurvivorNet experts say.
The vaccine is typically given to children before they are sexually active, as HPV is transmitted through sexual contact. And contrary to some detrimental misinformation circulated online, the HPV vaccine is entirely safe. There are virtually no side effects with this vaccine, Dr. Jonathan Berek, director of the Women’s Cancer Center at Stanford Medical Center, told SurvivorNet. It is “incredibly safe,” he added.