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J Clin Oncol. 2013 Feb 10;31(5):543-50. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.44.0164. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Deintensification candidate subgroups in human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer according to minimal risk of distant metastasis.

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Room 5-624, Princess Margaret Hospital, 610 University Ave, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2M9.



To define human papillomavirus (HPV) -positive oropharyngeal cancers (OPC) suitable for treatment deintensification according to low risk of distant metastasis (DM).


OPC treated with radiotherapy (RT) or chemoradiotherapy (CRT) from 2001 to 2009 were included. Outcomes were compared for HPV-positive versus HPV-negative patients. Univariate and multivariate analyses identified outcome predictors. Recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) stratified the DM risk.


HPV status was ascertained in 505 (56%) of 899 consecutive OPCs. Median follow-up was 3.9 years. HPV-positive patients (n = 382), compared with HPV-negative patients (n = 123), had higher local (94% v 80%, respectively, at 3 years; P < .01) and regional control (95% v 82%, respectively; P < .01) but similar distant control (DC; 90% v 86%, respectively; P = .53). Multivariate analysis identified that HPV negativity (hazard ratio [HR], 2.9; 95% CI, 2.0 to 5.0), N2b-N3 (HR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.8 to 4.9), T4 (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2 to 2.9), and RT alone (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.5) predicted a lower recurrence-free survival (RFS; all P < .01). Smoking pack-years > 10 reduced overall survival (HR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.7; P = .03) but did not impact RFS (HR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.7 to 1.9; P = .65). RPA segregated HPV-positive patients into low (T1-3N0-2c; DC, 93%) and high DM risk (N3 or T4; DC, 76%) groups and HPV-negative patients into different low (T1-2N0-2c; DC, 93%) and high DM risk (T3-4N3; DC, 72%) groups. The DC rates for HPV-positive, low-risk N0-2a or less than 10 pack-year N2b patients were similar for RT alone and CRT, but the rate was lower in the N2c subset managed by RT alone (73% v 92% for CRT; P = .02).


HPV-positive T1-3N0-2c patients have a low DM risk, but N2c patients from this group have a reduced DC when treated with RT alone and seem less suited for deintensification strategies that omit chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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