Predictors of overall survival in human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancer using the National Cancer Data Base

Oral Oncol. 2016 May;56:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 Mar 12.


Objectives: This study identifies clinical characteristics associated with HPV-positive oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) and evaluates predictors of overall survival (OS) in HPV-positive patients undergoing definitive treatment within the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB).

Material and methods: The NCDB was queried for patients ⩾18years old with OPSCC and known HPV status who underwent definitive treatment: surgery, radiation (RT), chemotherapy-RT (CRT), surgery+RT, surgery+CRT (S-CRT). Cox proportional hazards model was used for multivariate analysis (MVA) to evaluate predictors of OS by HPV status.

Results: 3952 patients were included: 2454 (62%) were HPV-positive. Median follow up was 23.7months (range, 1.0-54.5). Unadjusted 2-year OS rates for HPV-positive vs. negative were 93.1% vs. 77.8% (p<0.001) with an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.44 (95% CI, 0.36-0.53; p<0.001). MVA identified multimodality treatment including CRT (HR, 0.42; p=0.024) and S-RT (HR, 0.30; p=0.024), but not S-CRT (HR, 0.51; p=0.086), as predictors for improved OS in HPV-positive stage III-IVB disease. Multimodality treatment including S-CRT was associated with longer OS in HPV-negative OPSCC. Nodal stage was poorly associated with OS in HPV-positive cancers. The presence of positive margins and/or extracapsular extension was associated with worse OS in HPV-negative (HR, 2.11; p=0.008) but not HPV positive OPSCC (HR, 1.61; p=0.154).

Conclusion: The established demographic and clinical features of HPV-positive OPSCC were corroborated in the NCDB. Population analysis suggests that AJCC staging is poorly associated with OS in HPV-positive cancer, and traditional high-risk features may be less impactful. Bimodality therapy appears beneficial in HPV-positive HNSCC.

Keywords: Chemoradiation; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Human papillomavirus (HPV); National Cancer Data Base (NCDB); Oropharynx cancer; Survival outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alphapapillomavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology
  • Database Management Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology
  • Survival Analysis*