Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16)-positive patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (OPSCC) survive longer than HPV-negative patients regardless of treatment, a new study published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Cancer has shown.1

Although the presence of HPV DNA in OPSCC tissue seems to be a strong predictor of improved prognosis, this observation has not been investigated in a population-based sample.

For the study, researchers analyzed follow-up data from a large sample of patients with OPSCC included in 6 population-based registries in the United States in order to characterize the association of tumor HPV status with survival.

Continue Reading

Of the 529 patients with OPSCC identified, 71% had HPV DNA detected in tumor tissue. Results showed that a total of 65% of patients with HPV16-associated tumors survived 5 years compared with 46% of patients with other HPV types and 28% of patients with HPV-negative tumors (P < .0001).

RELATED: High Heregulin mRNA, HER3 Linked to Poor Survival in Oropharyngeal Carcinoma

The study demonstrated a 62% reduced risk of death at 5 years in patients with detected HPV16 DNA and a 42% reduced risk among those with other HPV types compared with HPV-negative patients.

The findings ultimately highlight the prognostic importance of HPV status for patients with this malignancy.

“Optimal treatment regimens for OPSCC could be tailored to each patient’s HPV status and prognostic profile,” the authors concluded.


  1. Goodman MT, Saraiya M, Thompson TD, et al. Human papillomavirus genotype and oropharynx cancer survival in the United States of America [published online ahead of print November 18, 2015]. Eur J Cancer. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2015.09.005.