Oral Cancer Answers Podcast, a production of the Oral Cancer Foundation, is where we discuss disease related issues of interest to patients, survivors, advocates, and medical and dental professionals. Our guests are drawn from a large body of knowledgeable OCF collaborators and thought leaders on oral cancer, from fields and backgrounds as diverse as research, education, medical and dental professionals, and survivors. If you would like us to consider a particular subject matter in future podcasts, drop us a note at [email protected]

Oral Biopsy “Save Lives” with Dr. Sahar Mirfarsi & Stephanie Govea

About Dr. Sahar Mirfarsi

I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated with honors from California State University, Northridge. She then attended the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where I received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

I became more interested in oral medicine and dental management of medically complex patients while completing her General Practice Residency (GPR) at the VA San Francisco. While Practicing dentistry in Los Angeles, I also served as an adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC and as a Staff Dentist at Keck School of Medicine of USC, Department of Maternal, Child, Adolescent Center for Infectious Disease and Virology. I have also served as an adjunct faculty member and lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Oral Diagnosis, Medicine and Orofacial Pain.

I then completed my Oral Medicine Residency at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine (UPENN). I became a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Medicine. I focus my clinical practice on diagnosing and managing oral mucosal diseases/lesions, temporomandibular disorders, orofacial pain, salivary gland dysfunction, and oral complications related to chemoradiotherapy.

I lecture nationally and internationally on topics related to oral medicine. I have published numerous papers and am one of the contributing authors of the prestigious American Academy of Oral Medicine manuscript: Clinician’s Guide to Treatment of Common Oral Conditions, 8th edition. As an Associate Professor at the Western University of Health Sciences, College of Dental Medicine, I teach, practice, and direct various courses for the Western University of Health Sciences, College of Dental Medicine.

Nominated by my wonderful patients through the National Consumer Advisory Board, I was recognized as one of “America’s Best Dentists” in 2023. This recognition showcases a clinician’s exceptional credentials, clinical expertise, and persistent dedication to excellence. In addition to my professional life, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, hiking, cooking, and practicing yoga.

I continue to dedicate my life journey to my family and patients. Thank you in advance for your trust in my care!

Sahar Mirfarsi, DDS, DABOM

The Human Immune System Basics

In a time of a Covid pandemic, and the rapid development of several life-saving vaccines to address it, the world has seen the possibilities that vaccines offer. But none of this has come without something unexpected given the hundreds of thousands who have died; vaccine hesitancy. One of the primary drivers for the last 20+ years of oropharyngeal cancers has been a virus, HPV. In 2006 a vaccine was made available in the market that will prevent HPV infections in the future generation that gets vaccinated now as children. Here in our head and neck/oral cancer world, there was also a huge opportunity, marred by some vocal anti-vaccine voices that have held back, through disinformation, the full potential of this cancer-preventing technology. OCF decided that we needed not just to argue with those in opposition to all vaccines, but to educate people with solid, science-based information so that they would feel more secure protecting their children while the pre-exposure window existed to use the vaccine. This task means that first, we have to ensure that individuals have a working understanding of the immune system itself, second that they understand how it protects us from various threats, and third what we can do to educate the immune system about threats it needs to recognize and protect us, pre-infection….ie through the use of a vaccine. Hesitancy or uncertainty about vaccination can only be eliminated through a thorough understanding of it,  not arguing against people who want to fight through the use of disinformation campaigns and lies. Armed with facts, the decision to be vaccinated is much easier.

This first of three podcasts will give the listener a sound understanding of how our immune system works, how it defines what is a threat,  and what components of it are put into action to protect us. To do this well we have enlisted the help of OCF’s long-time friend and colleague,  Dr. Ross Kerr from NYU to act as the OCF moderator for this episode, and he has chosen  Dr. David Levy as his well-versed and informed partner in the discussion. Dr. Levy has been working in the area of immune system research for decades. It is a privilege to have both of these distinguished doctors on this podcast. We would like to mention that this podcast was produced by the Oral Cancer Foundation in partn