Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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National Assessment of HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Monday, October 14, 2019

Brandon A. Mahal, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues conducted a population-based assessment of the incidence and demographic burden of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. With increasing incidences of HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in the United States, large national assessments of the disease burden are necessary. 

The study authors analyzed data from 12,017 patients diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma of pharyngeal subsites, including the hypopharynx, nasopharynx, and ‘other pharynx’; they were diagnosed between 2013 and 2014. The investigators used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results HPV Status Database and calculated age-adjusted incidence rates per 100,000 people by HPV status.

In the year studied, the incidence of HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in the United States was 4.62 per 100,000 persons compared with 1.82 per 100,000 persons for HPV-negative oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Most cases of HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma occurred in white men younger than 65 years old, where it represents the sixth most common incident non-skin cancer. In addition, HPV-positive disease was associated with lower cancer-specific mortality than HPV-negative disease for patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (P < .001); however, there was no association among patients with non-oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (P = .081). The favorable prognosis of HPV appears to be limited to the oropharynx, the authors noted.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at cebp.aacrjournals.org

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