An assisted communication tool designed for those who, suffering from head and neck cancer, find themselves voiceless or with difficulty speaking. It is the ‘My Voice’ App, launched in 2013 by Merck and now available in a completely new version. The new version of the application was presented this morning at the Genoa Science Festival, now in its 20th edition. The neoplasms of the upper aero-digestive tracts (pharynx, larynx and oral cavity), although relatively infrequent, represent a major clinical and social problem due to the delicacy of the functions they can compromise, the company recalls in a note. In Italy, malignant tumors of the head and neck area represent about 3% of all malignant neoplasms. Approximately 13,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and most are observed in the male population (7,300 cases). When, also due to delayed diagnosis, the extension of the tumor does not allow conservative therapeutic approaches, the ability to communicate in an understandable way can be compromised. “Early diagnosis is a fundamental tool for head and neck cancers – explains Roberto Maroldi, president of Aiocc (Italian Association of head and neck oncology) and director of the School of specialization in radiodiagnostics, University of Brescia – If identified at the stages and in the absence of lymph node involvement, these neoplasms have cure rates ranging from 80 to 90%. Do not forget the importance of a correct lifestyle, if we consider that as many as 75% of head and neck cancers they can be caused by smoking and alcohol. ” However, “in the majority of patients the disease is discovered late, at an advanced stage when therapies must be more invasive and the chances of healing are lower – underlines Lisa Licitra, director of medical oncology 3 head and neck cancers, Fondazione Irccs Institute national tumors Milan, associate professor of medical oncology, University of Milan – This is mainly due to the lack of knowledge of these types of cancer, and the consequent underestimation of symptoms “. Not being able to speak – continues the note – causes frustration and a sense of isolation, with serious consequences on a psychological and relational level. A subsidy like this App is therefore essential to allow patients to overcome, at least partially, the difficulties associated with this important limitation. My Voice – which can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play and is available in several languages - was designed to help patients overcome this seemingly insurmountable barrier and get out of a sense of marginalization. It is a “fundamental tool – highlights Paolo Pisani, president of Ailar (Italian Association of Laryngectomists) and director of the Otolaryngology and cervical-facial surgery Soc of the Civil Hospital of Asti – to allow patients suffering from head or neck cancer to be able to interact in every situation of their life: in a difficult moment, in a delicate choice, when there is a strong need to be listened to or simply to relate to loved ones “. Thanks to the application, patients have the possibility to express what they want (request for help, needs, feelings and emotions) through more than 130 icons, each associated with a name and a pre-recorded phrase. The new version of La Mia Voce provides the integration of a translation tool that will be able to play audio messages in different languages, the possibility of inserting an image in the customized sentences written by the user and the possibility of maintaining a tone of correct entry if there is a question mark or exclamation mark in the message. By touching one of the 130 icons, the App will allow you to reproduce the related pre-recorded phrase, pronounced by a male or female voice, at the user’s discretion. The user interface, very intuitive – describes Merck – allows easy access to the main features of the application: the menu and the profile icon are present at the top; categories include all pre-set and most common categories for a conversation, the list of favorites and the ability to add new ones; the operations will allow the use of the ‘write and listen’, the saved ‘phrases archive’ and the ‘record a message’ function. Finally, in the lower part of the page there is a toolbar for quick actions that will allow you to immediately play a ‘yes, no, I don’t know’, or to ring a bell to attract attention. Finally, the possibility of collecting the most used functions in a ‘favorites’ section aims to allow a faster and more functional use of the tool. “At Merck Italy we are constantly committed to responding to the unmet needs of patients and their caregivers – says Jan Kirsten, president and CEO of Merck Healthcare Italy – In order to meet these needs, we develop and offer cutting-edge therapeutic solutions. more. La Mia Voce is a clear example of our commitment to go ‘beyond the drug’, developing innovative Digital Health solutions, in close collaboration with patient associations and the scientific community, to make a real difference in people’s lives. who are faced with severe diseases such as cancer “. La Mia Voce will be the protagonist at the Genoa Science Festival until November 1st, as part of the ‘Look who speaks’ workshop: an experiential activity – describes the note – in which visitors will experience firsthand communication without sounds and the translation of elementary concepts in Lis (Italian Sign Language) and will discover the support of technologies, such as the App developed by Merck, for inclusive communication. To make the experience more immersive, throughout the workshop the participants will wear headphones that isolate from external noise and create the physiological condition in which it is necessary to find an alternative communication system. The initiative, curated by On Air – Voce alla Scienza, a cultural association created to enhance the role of science with an innovative, engaging and stimulating approach, was carried out in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano and the ABAcadabra social cooperative.