Definitive radiochemotherapy or initial surgery for oropharyngeal cancer

To what extent can p16 expression be used in the decision process?
  • Anouchka ModestoEmail author
  • Thibaut Galissier
  • Amélie Lusque
  • Jean-Pierre Delord
  • Emmanuelle Uro-Coste
  • Jérôme Sarini
  • Frédéric Mouchet
  • Raphaël Lopez
  • Anne Laprie
  • Pierre Graff
  • Sébastien Vergez
  • Michel Rives
Original Article



The decision between definitive radio(chemo)therapy (RCT) or a surgical strategy, i. e. surgery ± adjuvant radio(chemo)therapy for optimal treatment of oropharyngeal cancer is highly debated. Human papillomavirus(HPV)-related tumours are a distinct entity associated with p16 overexpression. While this represents a major prognostic factor, its predictive significance remains unknown.


Among 183 consecutive unselected patients treated between 2009 and 2013 with a state-of-the-art surgical procedure ± adjuvant radio(chemo)therapy or definitive RCT including intensity-modulated radiotherapy, 3‑year disease-free survival (DFS) was 74 vs. 57%, respectively (p = 0.007). When focusing on p16+ patients (49%), there was no significant difference in tumour control rate between surgery ± radio(chemo)therapy and the definitive RCT group (3-year DFS 83 vs. 82%, respectively; p = 0.48). However, delayed severe dysphagia was significantly lower in favour of definitive RCT: 35 vs. 4%, respectively; p = 0.0002.


Our results highlight distinct outcomes after definitive RCT or initial surgical treatment according to p16 status, which should thus be considered during the decision process.


Human papillomavirus Genes, p16 Radiotherapy Survival Risk factors 

Definitive Radiochemotherapie oder initiale Operation beim Oropharynxkarzinom

In welchem Umfang kann die p16-Expression im Entscheidungsprozess verwendet werden?



In der Erstlinie werden die radio(chemo)therapeutische und die chirurgische Strategie z. B. Operation ± adjuvante Radio(chemo)therapie (RCT) für die oropharyngeale Krebsbehandlung stark diskutiert. Humane-Papillomvirus(HPV)-induzierte Tumore sind eine eigenständige Entität, die mit einer p16-Überexpression assoziiert ist, die einen wichtigen prognostischen Faktor darstellt, deren prädiktive Bedeutung jedoch unbekannt bleibt.


Unter unseren 183 konsekutiven nichtselektionierten Patienten, die zwischen 2009 und 2013 mit Resektion mit adjuvanter Therapie oder moderner definitiver RCT einschließlich intensitätsmodulierter Strahlentherapie (IMRT) behandelt wurden, beträgt das krankheitsfreie 3‑Jahres-Überleben (DFS) jeweils 74 vs. 57 % (p = 0,007). Bei der Fokussierung auf Patienten mit p16+ (49 %) ergab der chirurgische vs. radiotherapeutische Ansatz eine ähnliche Tumorkontrollrate (3-Jahres-DFS 83 vs. 82 %; p = 0,48), jedoch führte die Resektion gefolgt von adjuvanter Therapie zu einer signifikant höheren Rate an verzögerter schwerer Dysphagie (35 vs. 4 %; p = 0,0002).


Unsere Resultate heben die unterschiedlichen Ergebnisse nach definitiver RCT oder initialer chirurgischer Behandlung gemäß p16-Status hervor, die im Entscheidungsprozess berücksichtigt werden sollten.


Humanes Papillomvirus Gene, p16 Strahlentherapie Überleben Risikofaktoren 


Conflict of interest

A. Modesto, T. Galissier, A. Lusque, J.-P. Delord, E. Uro-Coste, J. Sarini, F. Mouchet, R. Lopez, A. Laprie, P. Graff, S. Vergez and M. Rives declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anouchka Modesto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thibaut Galissier
    • 2
  • Amélie Lusque
    • 3
  • Jean-Pierre Delord
    • 4
  • Emmanuelle Uro-Coste
    • 2
  • Jérôme Sarini
    • 5
  • Frédéric Mouchet
    • 6
  • Raphaël Lopez
    • 7
  • Anne Laprie
    • 1
  • Pierre Graff
    • 1
  • Sébastien Vergez
    • 5
  • Michel Rives
    • 1
  1. 1.Radiation Oncology Department, Institut Claudius RegaudInstitut Universitaire du Cancer de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Pathology Department, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de ToulouseInstitut Universitaire du Cancer de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Biostatistics Department, Institut Claudius RegaudInstitut Universitaire du Cancer de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Medical Oncology Department, Institut Claudius RegaudInstitut Universitaire du Cancer de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  5. 5.Head and Neck Surgery Department, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de LarreyInstitut Universitaire du Cancer de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  6. 6.Head and Neck Surgery DepartmentClinique Ambroise ParéToulouseFrance
  7. 7.Maxillo-facial Surgery DepartmentCHU Toulouse PurpanToulouseFrance

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