Quality of Life for Patients With Favorable-Risk HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer After De-intensified Chemoradiotherapy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Mar 1;103(3):646-653. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.10.033. Epub 2018 Nov 2.


Purpose: Oropharynx cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) have a favorable prognosis, but current treatment approaches carry significant long-term morbidity. Strategies to de-intensify treatment in this population are under investigation, but the impact of these approaches on quality of life (QOL) is not well understood. We present patient-reported outcomes from 2 prospective studies examining de-intensified chemoradiotherapy.

Methods and materials: This study included patients enrolled in 2 prospective phase 2 trials of de-intensified chemoradiotherapy in patients with HPV-associated oropharynx cancer who had at least 1 year of follow-up. Treatment included concurrent radiation therapy (60 Gy) and chemotherapy (weekly cisplatin, 30 mg/m2). Patients reported QOL and symptoms using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Head and Neck Cancer Module-35, and the Eating Assessment Tool-10 instruments before treatment and at regular intervals thereafter. Changes in QOL and individual symptoms were examined over time, and multivariate analysis was used to identify clinical factors associated with recovery to baseline symptom levels.

Results: Of the 154 patients enrolled, 126 patients had at least 1 year of follow-up and were included in this study (median follow-up, 25 months). Global QOL, functional indices, and most individual symptoms returned to baseline 3 to 6 months after treatment. Swallowing (Eating Assessment Tool-10 score) returned to baseline function by 2 years, but dry mouth, sticky saliva, and taste/senses did not return to baseline levels. However, from 1 to 2 years, continued improvement occurred in dry mouth score (55 vs 48), sticky saliva score (35 vs 27), and senses score (24 vs 20). On multivariate analysis, unilateral radiation therapy was associated with returning to baseline level of swallowing and sticky saliva.

Conclusions: The use of de-intensified chemoradiotherapy in HPV-associated oropharynx cancer led to favorable patient-reported outcomes, with early recovery of QOL and continued improvement of xerostomia and dysphagia beyond 1-year posttreatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology
  • Papillomaviridae*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / therapy
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*