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66% of cases of oral, head and neck cancers aren't discovered until they've already progressed to late stages three and four.

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery  



Risk, Screening, Symptoms: What You Need to Know 


About: Head and neck cancers usually start in the cells lining the mouth, throat, and larynx, as well as in salivary glands, sinuses, or muscles or nerves in the head and neck. Oral cancer is a type of head and neck cancer, and combined they make up about 4 percent of all U.S. cancer cases according to the National Cancer Institute. They are more common in men than in women, especially in those over 50.

Risk Factors: Tobacco and heavy alcohol use, infection with specific types of human papillomavirus (HPV), especially HPV type 16, exposure to wood and metal dusts, formaldehyde, radiation, Epstein-Barr virus infection, and underlying genetic disorders.

Screening: While there is no standard or routine screening test for head and neck cancers, some dentists screen for oral cancer as part of a regular exam or cleaning, checking inside the mouth for red or white patches or mouth sores, and feeling the mouth tissues for lumps or other abnormalities.

Symptoms: Head and neck cancer can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often mild and can mimic less serious conditions like a cold or sore throat. A persistent sore throat is the most common symptom of head and neck cancer. Other symptoms include persistent pain in the mouth, throat, neck, ears, or sinuses.

ICRF in the News

ICRF Scientist Awarded 2024 Rappaport Prize for Biomedical Excellence

Congratulations to ICRF scientist Prof. Yifat Merbl of the Department of Systems Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science for receiving the 2024 Rappaport Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Prof. Merbl is a recipient of a Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program Grant co-funded by ICRF and Cancer Research Institute. This partnership provides brilliant Israeli scientists with another opportunity to conduct groundbreaking cancer research.

Learn more about Yifat's research here.

Updates from Team ICRF

A Winning Team on and Off the Course

Congratulations to our Team ICRF runners who participated in the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on March 17!

Together, they exceeded their collective goal and raised nearly $33,000 and counting for groundbreaking cancer research. We're endlessly grateful for their enthusiastic support of our mission.

"From start to finish, over bridges, through parks and up Times Square, it was an honor and a privilege to run for the 3rd time as part of Team ICRF in the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon! Thank you to everyone who donated, lent their support and cheered for me on and off the course. I appreciate it so much!" – Jen, Team ICRF Runner, Breast Cancer Survivor

We want you on our team! To learn more about joining Team ICRF in its ongoing quest to beat cancer, email deirdre.heiss@icrfonline.org.

Scientist Spotlights

Naama Geva-Zatorsky, PhD

Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

Research Career Development Award

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the sixth most common malignancy and a major cause of mortality worldwide. OSCC is usually diagnosed in advanced stages, with poor prognosis. The microbiota – the collection of microorganisms living in and on our body – is instrumental in cancer development and the success of cancer therapy. The Geva-Zatorsky lab is studying the microbiota’s effects on the body, especially the impact of the oral microbiota on cancer initiation and progression.

Angel Porgador, PhD

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev 

ICRF Acceleration Grant

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy that block proteins which stop the immune system from attacking cancer cells. Among the most challenging obstacles in medical oncology is predicting the response of an individual patient to a checkpoint blocker and personalizing effective treatment. Dr. Porgador is working to develop a new technology that measures the activity of proteins known to suppress the immune response to a tumor in lung, kidney, and head and neck cancers.

Science at a Glance

The Oropharynx

The oropharynx is a region in the middle part of the throat that sits just beyond the mouth. It includes several key structures, including the base of the tongue, the soft palate (the back portion of the roof of the mouth), the tonsils, and the side and back walls of the throat.

Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that arises in the oropharynx. It is increasingly recognized for its association with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) type 16, and presents distinct characteristics and treatment responses.

Special Thank You to Our AEPi Partners

Alpha Epsilon Pi's Mensch Madness Supports ICRF and Breaks Record

You've heard of March Madness, but what is Mensch Madness? Philanthropic leaders at Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity engage their chapters in this annual fundraising and college basketball competition, the Mensch Madness Official Bracket Challenge. This year, the initiative exclusively supports ICRF, and raised a record-breaking $66,000 and counting for cancer research in Israel.

"AEPi develops the next generation of Jewish leaders and two central tenets of that are instilling a culture of philanthropy, and supporting the State of Israel," AEPi CEO Rob Derdinger told ICRF. "Cancer has impacted far too many of us and our Jewish ethics demand that we take action. AEPi knows that when we save one life, it is as if we have saved the world, and we know that every contribution plays a significant role in the fight to find lifesaving breakthroughs in research. AEPi stands shoulder to shoulder with ICRF, making a difference in the lives of those who need it most." 

ICRF is grateful for its partnership with Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, which was formed nearly a decade ago. Sandy Rosen, ICRF's Director of Development of the Chicago Chapter, met AEPi leaders at a community event and invited them to learn more about ICRF through volunteer opportunities. The brothers were moved by this work and over time, deepened their involvement by selecting ICRF as an official philanthropic partner. Some ICRF leaders and community members are AEPi alumni, bringing everything back full circle. 

Read more about AEPi's philanthropic efforts.

Learn how your organization can become an ICRF partner to advance the fight against cancer. Contact ICRF Executive Director Alan Herman at alan.herman@icrfonline.org or 347-218-5946 for more information.

Upcoming Events

Runway for Research – Chicago

Thursday, April 18

Join us for the 6th annual spring event supporting women's cancer research. The Runway for Research fashion show will feature styles from Neiman Marcus, Bolt Addiction, Lillie Alexander, Reach Yoga, Something XX, Enaz, LuxLab, Bunny & Babe and more! 

Register Now and see more events in the area.

TD Five Boro Bike Tour – New York

Sunday, May 5

Join Team ICRF on an incredible 40-mile bike ride through New York City. Through this iconic event you'll experience the city like never before while raising funds from your community to support groundbreaking cancer research in Israel.

Register Now

Women of Action Brunch – Connecticut

Thursday, June 20

Join us at this ICRF inaugural event celebrating Robin Bennett Kanarek, a leader in our community who has channeled the grief from an immense loss into a courageous campaign to help others. 

Register Now

News Roundup

A Simple Blood Test Can Detect Colorectal Cancer Early, Study Finds (NPR) At a time when colorectal cancer is on the rise, a new study finds the disease can be detected through a blood test. The results of a clinical trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that the blood-based screening test detects 83% of people with colorectal cancer.

This Risk Assessment Tool Helped Olivia Munn Discover Her Breast Cancer (CNN)  

A tool that’s available as an online calculator played a key role in actress Olivia Munn’s discovery that she had breast cancer – even after she had “a normal mammogram."

What's Next for Kate Middleton, Prince William and Their Kids After Cancer Diagnosis (ABC News) As Kate, the Princess of Wales, undergoes treatment for cancer after revealing her diagnosis publicly last week, the public is learning more details about the impact of that diagnosis and the support she is receiving.

Support ICRF With a Matching Gift

Double the impact of your tax-deductible gift to ICRF! Find out if your employer will match your donation.


Your gift + your employer's match makes twice as much groundbreaking cancer research possible. Learn more below.


Make a Meaningful Impact

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With a planned gift to the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), you can make a meaningful impact on countless cancer patients and their loved ones for years to come. To learn more about including ICRF in your estate planning, contact ICRF Executive Director Alan Herman at alan.herman@icrfonline.org or 347-218-5946.

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