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Posted on Mon, May 10, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

University of Michigan researchers develop technique to help head and neck cancer patients avoid feeding tubes

By Tina Reed

University of Michigan researchers believe they may have found a way to reduce the risk that cancer patients receiving radiation treatments to the head and neck will become dependent on a feeding tube.

In a study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers say they have developed techniques that help avoid the structures that impact swallowing and eating.

"Using techniques to avoid the muscles in the mouth and throat involved in swallowing," the researchers found the techniques treated cancer effectively while reducing the chances of long-term swallowing problems, according to a U-M release.

Up to 20 percent of cancer patients receiving radiation in the head and neck areas become dependent on a feeding tube.

Golf outing planned to raise funds for diabetes research

Former U-M football celebrities - including former coach Lloyd Carr - are playing in an upcoming golf outing to raise money for Type 1 diabetes research.

The 2010 "Swing to Cure" Golf Outing will be held on Monday, May 17 at the U-M Golf Course, 500 E. Stadium Blvd., in Ann Arbor. Proceeds will go to U-M's Comprehensive Diabetes Center and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The event will also feature a silent and live auction, competitions and prizes, and more. Golfer gift bags, a boxed lunch, beverages and a buffet-style dinner courtesy of Outback Steakhouse also will be provided.

The outing is being organized by former U-M football player Rich Hewlett, who was a back-up quarterback on the 1980 team that won the Big Ten Championship and the 1981 Rose Bowl Game. One of Hewlett's two sons has Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

Hewlett's former teammates will be at the outing, as well as Cathy Schembechler, widow of former U-M football coach Bo Schembechler, who coached from 1969-1989. She will donate an item for the silent auction.

The event will begin with an 11 a.m. shotgun start.

Registrations to play or sponsor the event are still being accepted. To register to play, to become a sponsor or to make a donation, visit or contact Hewlett at 248-642-8439 or e-mail him at

Cancer disparities focus of upcoming 3-day forum

Research consistently indicates persistent disparities in cancer rates and access to health care.

An upcoming three-day forum to be hosted by U-M's Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies will address how those disparities affect cancer patients, the impact the economy has had and what's being done about it.

The forum is planned May 20-22 at U-M's Rackham Graduate School Building, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor.

“We believe that the economic trouble in Michigan offers a unique position in which to discuss the impact of the economy on cancer health disparities, and may provide valuable lessons and initiatives that can be implemented nationally,” event organizer Christopher Sonnenday, assistant professor of surgery and assistant professor of health management and policy at U-M, said in a release.

For more information, contact Jean Steppe at or 734-214-6430.

To get information about a local health event or announcement mentioned in the Monday health briefs, contact reporter Tina Reed at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.