Radiotherapy alone as a possible de-intensified treatment for human papillomavirus-related locally advanced oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma
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Human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is defined by p16 positivity and/or HPV DNA positivity. Because survival of patients with HPV-related OPSCC after chemoradiotherapy is favorable, a de-intensified treatment is expected to lead to less morbidity while maintaining low mortality. The association of tumor p16 and HPV DNA status with survival after radiotherapy alone remains unknown.
We retrospectively examined survival of 107 patients with locally advanced OPSCC after radiotherapy alone (n = 43) or chemoradiotherapy (n = 64) with respect to tumor p16 and HPV DNA status, using Cox’s proportional hazard model.
Survival after radiotherapy alone was significantly worse in p16-positive/HPV DNA-negative locally advanced OPSCC than in p16-positive/HPV DNA-positive locally advanced OPSCC. In bivariable analyses that included T category, N category, TNM stage, and smoking history, the survival disadvantage of p16-positive/HPV DNA-negative locally advanced OPSCC remained significant. There was no significant difference in survival after chemoradiotherapy between p16-positive/HPV DNA-positive locally advanced OPSCC and p16-positive/HPV DNA-negative locally advanced OPSCC. Survival in p16-positive/HPV DNA-positive locally advanced OPSCC after radiotherapy alone was similar to that after chemoradiotherapy, which stayed unchanged in bivariable analyses after adjustment of every other covariable. Survival of p16-negative/HPV DNA-negative locally advanced OPSCC was poor irrespective of treatment modality.
Survival in p16-positive locally advanced OPSCC differs depending on HPV DNA status. Radiotherapy alone can serve as a de-intensified treatment for p16-positive/HPV DNA-positive locally advanced OPSCC, but not for p16-positive/HPV DNA-negative locally advanced OPSCC.
KeywordsHuman papillomavirus Oropharyngeal carcinoma De-intensified treatment Radiotherapy alone
We appreciate that Ms. Mayumi Aihara provided technical assistance. We thank Libby Cone, MD, MA, from Edanz Group Japan (http://www.edanzediting.com/ac) for editing a draft of this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest.
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