Objectives/hypothesis: The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been identified as a causative factor in 20% to 25% of all head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Ongoing research suggests that the presence of HPV DNA in HNSCC predicts a positive prognosis with respect to disease-free and overall survival. However, most studies have been limited by the heterogeneity in treatment regimens and/or anatomic subsites of tumor origin. In this study, we correlate clinical outcomes with HPV status for patients with oropharyngeal carcinomas who were uniformly treated with a concurrent chemoradiation treatment protocol.
Study design: Retrospective study.
Methods: Demographic and clinicopathologic parameters, including age at diagnosis, gender, race, smoking and alcohol history, tumor stage and grade, locoregional recurrence, metastatic spread, recurrence-free survival, overall survival and disease-specific death, were obtained from medical charts and established databases. These parameters were correlated with HPV status of the tumors established by in situ hybridization analysis.
Results: HPV positivity correlated with improved clinical outcomes regarding locoregional control (P = .042), recurrence-free survival (P = .009), overall survival (P = .017), and disease-specific death (P = .09). Advanced T stage was a significant risk factor for recurrence and death independent of HPV status.
Conclusions: In patients with oropharyngeal carcinoma uniformly treated with chemoradiation, the presence of HPV is a favorable prognostic indicator with respect to recurrence and overall survival. However, advanced T stage was an independent risk factor for recurrence and death that can to some degree offset this benefit.