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Blood and saliva tests help predict return of HPV-linked oral cancers
Date:7/31/2014

3 oropharyngeal cancer patients who were treated with surgery, radiation alone, or combined chemotherapy and radiation at The Johns Hopkins Hospital or Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Samples were collected before and after treatment. Some 81 patients had HPV-positive tumors. The researchers selected patients with a variety of early-to-advanced stage cancers; none of the patients had distant metastasis.

The blood and saliva tests were performed using polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies certain portions of DNA and measures its amount.

The scientists found that HPV DNA detected in patients' saliva after treatment was predictive for recurrence nearly 20 percent of the time in a subset of the patients. When the scientists looked for HPV DNA in the blood of another subset of patients, the accuracy of a recurrence prediction rose to more than 55 percent. In a third subset of patients, finding HPV DNA in both blood and saliva samples after treatment accurately predicted recurrence 70 percent of the time.

Despite the encouraging results, Califano says, further refinements are still badly needed to improve detection of possible recurrences because HPV is highly prevalent in our bodies, and "we can't be sure our test results are cancer-specific and not due to other forms of HPV infection or exposure."

His team is looking for other genomic biomarkers that would increase the specificity of HPV DNA testing in blood and saliva. Califano also cautioned that the current study was too small to link test results to the severity of recurrence.

Rates of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer are on the rise in the United States, outpacing oropharyngeal cancers due to tobacco and alcohol use, according to Califano. Some 70 percent of nearly 30,000 oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are caused by HPV.


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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-614-2916
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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