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The Role of HPV in Determining Treatment, Survival, and Prognosis of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 by the authors. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been identified as a significant etiological agent in the development of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). HPV’s involvement has alluded to better survival and prognosis in patients and suggests that different treatment strategies may be appropriate for them. Only some data on the epidemiology of HPV infection in the oropharyngeal, oral cavity, and laryngeal SCC exists in Europe. Thus, this study was carried out to investigate HPV’s impact on HNSCC patient outcomes in the Irish population, one of the largest studies of its kind using consistent HPV testing techniques. A total of 861 primary oropharyngeal, oral cavity, and laryngeal SCC (OPSCC, OSCC, LSCC) cases diagnosed between 1994 and 2013, identified through the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI), were obtained from hospitals across Ireland and tested for HPV DNA using Multiplex PCR Luminex technology based in and sanctioned by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Both overall and cancer-specific survival were significantly improved amongst all HPV-positive patients together, though HPV status was only a significant predictor of survival in the oropharynx. Amongst HPV-positive patients in the oropharynx, surgery alone was associated with prolonged survival, alluding to the potential for de-escalation of treatment in HPV-related OPSCC in particular. Cumulatively, these findings highlight the need for continued investigation into treatment pathways for HPV-related OPSCC, the relevance of introducing boys into national HPV vaccination programs, and the relevance of the nona-valent Gardasil-9 vaccine to HNSCC prevention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sharkey Ochoa I, O'Regan E, Toner M, Kay E, Faul P, O'Keane C, O'Connor R, Mullen D, Nur M, O'Murchu E, Barry-O'Crowley J, Kernan N, Tewari P, Keegan H, O'Toole S, Woods R, Kennedy S, Feeley K, Sharp L, Gheit T, Tommasino M, O'Leary JJ, Martin CM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cancers

Year: 2022

Volume: 14

Issue: 17

Online publication date: 03/09/2022

Acceptance date: 01/09/2022

Date deposited: 13/10/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2072-6694

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/cancers14174321


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