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Prognosis of tumors positive for human papilloma virus in head and neck cancers varies according to the site
Date:4/5/2014

Vienna, Austria: Patients with cancer of the throat and who are positive for the Human Papilloma virus (HPV+) have a good prognosis, but until now the effect of being HPV+ on the prognosis of tumours located elsewhere in the head and neck was unknown. Danish researchers have now shown that HPV status appears to have no prognostic effect on the outcome of primary radiotherapy in head and neck cancer outside the oropharynx (the part of the throat located behind the mouth, and which contains the soft palate and the base of the tongue), the ESTRO 33 congress will hear today (Sunday).

Presenting her results to the congress, Dr Pernille Lassen, MD, PhD, from the Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark, will say that head and neck cancers located outside the oropharynx should probably not be treated with the less intensive treatment strategies that are currently being investigated in clinical trials for HPV+ oropharyngeal tumours.

"HPV status has a very potent prognostic impact in radiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer, and DNA from HPV has been found in all types of head and neck cancer, although it is far more common in oropharyngeal tumours. We decided to investigate the impact of HPV status in non-oropharyngeal cancers in the DAHANCA database, which includes all Danish head and neck cancer patients," Dr Lassen will say.

The researchers searched the database to identify patients with locally advanced cancers who had been treated primarily with radiotherapy, and identified 1606 patients with larynx and pharynx carcinomas. Overall, 40% of the tumours were HPV positive, and the frequency was significantly higher in oropharyngeal cancer (57%), than in non-oropharyngeal (13%).

Being positive for HPV significantly improved tumour control (81% as opposed to 55%), as well as survival from the cancer (89% and 55% respectively), and death from any cause (82% and 38% respectively), after five years.

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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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