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Cancer Lett. 2010 Feb 28;288(2):149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.06.026. Epub 2009 Jul 22.

HPV-induced oropharyngeal cancer, immune response and response to therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, United States.


Approximately 25% of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) worldwide are associated with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). HPV-positive HNSCCs have a more favorable outcome and greater response to therapy. While chronic HPV infection allows for the evolution of immune evasion mechanisms, viral antigens can still elicit an immune response. Moreover, a robust lymphocytic response is associated with better prognosis in a variety of tumor types including head and neck cancer. This article outlines several mechanisms whereby the observed improved response of HPV-positive tumors to radiotherapy may be related to enhancement of the immune response following radiotherapy.

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