Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Is HPV on the Rise in Oropharyngeal Cancers?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2019

In a new study published in Cancer, Farhoud Faraji, MD, PhD, of the University of San Diego Health, and his colleagues reported an increase in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer. This increase was seen across all sex and race/ethnicity groups in the United States. Sex and race were both independently associated with survival in patients with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer, but there appeared to be no association in regard to HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer.

“This analysis of a large hospital-based national cohort with confirmed tumor HPV status found that the prevalence of HPV is increasing among male, female, white, black, and Hispanic patients,” the investigators noted. “Our findings underscore the…need for ongoing surveillance of epidemiologic trends.”

Patients in the U.S. National Cancer Database diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer between 2010 and 2015 were included in the study. Of them, 20,866 patients were HPV-positive and 10,364 were HPV-negative. Approximately 71% of the men were HPV-positive as compared with about 56% of women, and the prevalence of HPV in both groups increased over time, with rates of 3.5% and 3.2% respectively. White individuals had the highest prevalence of HPV-positive tumors with 70.2%, followed by Hispanic (61.3%), Asian (55.8%), and black (46.3%) individuals; however, Hispanic and black individuals saw more rapid increases in prevalence over time.

Sex and race/ethnicity had no apparent impact on survival in patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer. However, in those with HPV-negative cancers, the risk of death was higher for women than men (hazard ratio = 1.17). Black individuals also saw a higher rate of death than white individuals (hazard ratio = 1.21).

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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