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Tobacco use linked to worse outcomes in HPV-positive head and neck cancer, U-M study finds
Date:2/15/2010

er tobacco users and 35 percent of current tobacco users had a recurrence. Still, the outcomes were better than the HPV-negative patients, all of whom were smokers, and among whom half recurred.

Tobacco users have traditionally been more likely than non-users to develop head and neck cancers. But a recent rise in these cancers linked to HPV has meant more non-smokers are being diagnosed with the disease. HPV-positive head and neck cancers tend to be more responsive to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which has made researchers wonder if these highly toxic treatments could be reduced in this group of patients.

"The side effects of these treatments affect critical functions such as eating and swallowing. Since the HPV-positive tumors respond so well to treatment, our research team has been asking: Could we potentially spare patients some of these side effects while maintaining good outcomes if we reduce the doses given? If we decide to reduce intensity of treatment, our study shows we will want to take tobacco use into account. Any smoking or tobacco use increases the risk of recurrence or a second primary cancer," Carey says.

Researchers from U-M's multidisciplinary head and neck oncology program are planning a clinical trial to look at reducing treatment intensity for low-risk patients those whose tumors express certain markers, including HPV, and who are not tobacco users. The trial is expected to begin this spring.


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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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