HPV-related (HPV+) oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) has a better prognosis compared to HPV unrelated (HPV-) OPC. This review summarizes and discusses several of the controversies regarding the management of HPV+ OPC, including the mechanism of its treatment sensitivity, modern surgical techniques, chemotherapy regimens, and treatment de-intensification protocols. We also discuss and reconsider potential adverse prognostic factors such as tumor EGFR expression, tumor hypoxia, and patient smoking history, as well as the significance of retropharyngeal adenopathy. Finally, we discuss elective nodal treatment of uninvolved lymph node stations. While this review does not exhaust all controversies related to the management of HPV+ OPC, it aims to highlight some of the most clinically relevant ones.
Keywords: Cetuximab; EGFR; HPV; Hypoxia; Oropharyngeal carcinoma; Radiosensitivity; TORS; Treatment de-intensification; p16.