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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

ncers we found no prognostic impact of being HPV positive in any of these endpoints," Dr Lassen will say. "This indicates that HPV status does not help us in predicting response to treatment, and hence the outcome of these cancers.

"We know from laboratory studies that HPV positive tumour cells are much more sensitive to radiation therapy than HPV negative cells, so until now we believed that they would behave similarly irrespective of site," Dr Lassen will say. "However, these data indicate that this is not the case, and at present we do not understand why this should be, though it probably can be ascribed to other biological/genetic differences between the tumours rather than the HPV status. We would now like to try to elucidate the underlying mechanisms behind these different outcomes."

There could be, for example, biological and/or genetic differences between the tumours other than the HPV status, the researchers say; for example, genetic changes caused by smoking tobacco, differences due to tumours of mixed make-up (for example, a combination of HPV+ and tobacco), or perhaps simply differences due to the site. "Such tumours with a combination of causes represent a challenge in our clinical daily practice," Dr Lassen will say.

"We have started following up our work by analysing all the tumour samples using polymerase chain reaction, a way of amplifying DNA in order to be able to analyse changes in genetic information. We hope this will enable us to understand more about why the role of HPV in non-oropharyngeal tumours is so different. There are few data available on this subject at present, so finding out will be an important step towards optimising treatment for these patients."

President of ESTRO, Professor Vincenzo Valentini, a radiation oncologist at the Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy, commented: "These findings will have an important impact on the treatment of HPV+ head and neck cancers, and are likel
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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