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HPV-positive tumor status indicates better survival in patients with oropharyngeal cancer
Date:6/7/2010

HOUSTON - Oropharyngeal cancer patients whose tumors in the upper part of the throat test positively for the human papillomavirus (HPV) have better overall survival than patients with HPV-negative disease, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study - the largest and most definitive to date completed in a joint effort with the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) - shows that tumor HPV status is a strong and independent prognostic factor for survival for these patients. Follow-up data from the study were presented today at the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Abstract #5510).

"This is the strongest prognostic factor we have ever identified for head and neck cancer patients," said K. Kian Ang, M.D., Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Radiation Oncology and lead author on the paper. "Its value is stronger than other prognostic factors we have used such as the size of the tumor or presence of tumor in lymph nodes. Knowing that the tumor is associated with HPV is telling the patient that the prognosis is excellent with currently available treatments."

The Phase III clinical trial established by the RTOG examined overall survival and progression-free survival in 323 patients with stage III-IV oropharyngeal cancer treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Of these patients, 206 had HPV-positive tumors and 117 were HPV-negative. The three-year overall survival rate for patients with HPV-positive tumors was 82.4 percent compared to 57.1 percent with HPV-negative cancer. Progression-free survival rates were 73.7 percent and 43.4 percent, respectively.

When researchers adjusted for other significant determinants of survival, including patient age, race, tumor and nodal stage and tobacco use, patients with HPV-positive cancer had a 58 percent redu
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Contact: Lindsay Anderson
lindsay.anderson@gabbe.com
212-220-4444
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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