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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007;69(2 Suppl):S109-11.

Response to therapy and outcomes in oropharyngeal cancer are associated with biomarkers including human papillomavirus, epidermal growth factor receptor, gender, and smoking.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Induction chemotherapy and concurrent chemoradiation for responders or immediate surgery for non-responders is an effective treatment strategy head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) of the larynx and oropharynx. Biomarkers that predict outcome would be valuable in selecting patients for therapy. In this study, the presence and titer of high risk human papilloma virus (HPV) and expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in pre-treatment biopsies, as well as smoking and gender were examined in oropharynx cancer patients enrolled in an organ sparing trial. HPV16 copy number was positively associated with response to therapy and with overall and disease specific survival, whereas EGFR expression, current or former smoking behavior, and female gender (in this cohort) were associated with poor response and poor survival in multivariate analysis. Smoking cessation and strategies to target EGFR may be useful adjuncts for therapy to improve outcome in the cases with the poorest biomarker profile.

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