Emerging results from a new research indicates that there is a higher risk of early death among patients with oropharynx cancer
when not caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), than those whose tumors are HPV
-positive. The findings are published early online in CANCER
, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer
The increasing incidence of oropharynx cancer
--a type of throat cancer
that occurs in the tonsils and base of the tongue--is being witnessed not only in the United States but also globally, with rates that are more than twice as high in men than in women. Recent evidence has shown that approximately 75 percent of these cancers
are due to infection with HPV,
a sexually transmitted virus that can mostly be prevented through vaccination.
A research team led by Dr Danielle N. Margalit, MD, MPH, of the Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women's Cancer
Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, designed a study to better understand the causes and risks of early death among patients with oropharynx cancer
and to determine how these risks differ in patients with and without HPV
The medical researchers' analysis included information on 4,930 U.S. patients who were diagnosed with nonmetastatic oropharynx cancer
from 2013 to 2014, including 3,560 whose cancers
-positive and 1,370 whose cancers
-negative. Patients were followed for a median of 11 months.
The results of the study showed that compared with patients whose cancers were HPV-
negative, those whose cancers
-positive had a lower risk of dying from any cause within two years (10.4 percent versus 33.3 percent) and a lower risk of dying from head and neck cancer
(4.8 percent versus 16.2 percent). Patients who had HPV
-positive oropharynx cancer
also had a lower risk of dying from cancers
other than head and neck cancer
Dr Margalit told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "The study is really eye-opening when it comes to the high risk of death among patients with HPV
-negative oropharynx cancer
. The information can be put to use by clinicians who see patients after treatment. They need to be vigilant not just about head and neck cancer
recurrence, but also about screening for other cancers
comorbidities that can influence patients' risk of early death, and they should counsel patients on addressing modifiable risk factors."
Reference: "Short-term mortality risks among patients with oropharynx cancer by human papillomavirus status." Zoe H. Fullerton, Santino S. Butler, Brandon A. Mahal, Vinayak Muralidhar, Jonathan D. Schoenfeld, Roy B. Tishler, and Danielle N. Margalit. CANCER; Published Online: January 13, 2020 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.32652).