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Laryngoscope. 2009 Aug;119(8):1542-9. doi: 10.1002/lary.20533.

Prognostic significance of human papillomavirus in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas.

Author information

  • 1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.



The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been identified as a causative factor in 20% to 25% of all head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Ongoing research suggests that the presence of HPV DNA in HNSCC predicts a positive prognosis with respect to disease-free and overall survival. However, most studies have been limited by the heterogeneity in treatment regimens and/or anatomic subsites of tumor origin. In this study, we correlate clinical outcomes with HPV status for patients with oropharyngeal carcinomas who were uniformly treated with a concurrent chemoradiation treatment protocol.


Retrospective study.


Demographic and clinicopathologic parameters, including age at diagnosis, gender, race, smoking and alcohol history, tumor stage and grade, locoregional recurrence, metastatic spread, recurrence-free survival, overall survival and disease-specific death, were obtained from medical charts and established databases. These parameters were correlated with HPV status of the tumors established by in situ hybridization analysis.


HPV positivity correlated with improved clinical outcomes regarding locoregional control (P = .042), recurrence-free survival (P = .009), overall survival (P = .017), and disease-specific death (P = .09). Advanced T stage was a significant risk factor for recurrence and death independent of HPV status.


In patients with oropharyngeal carcinoma uniformly treated with chemoradiation, the presence of HPV is a favorable prognostic indicator with respect to recurrence and overall survival. However, advanced T stage was an independent risk factor for recurrence and death that can to some degree offset this benefit.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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