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Post-treatment persistence of oral HPV in HNSCC predicts recurrence, death

Key clinical point: Persistence of detectable tumor-type HPV DNA in oral rinses after primary treatment of HPV-positive HNSCC identifies patients at high risk for poor outcomes.

Major finding: HPV-positive patients with persistent oral tumor-type HPV DNA had sharply higher risks of 2-year recurrence-free survival events (hazard ratio, 3.72; P less than .001) and death (hazard ratio, 6.61; P = .003).

Study details: Prospective cohort study of 396 patients with newly diagnosed oral cavity or oropharyngeal HNSCC.

Disclosures: Dr. Gillison disclosed consulting for Roche Holding AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co Inc., Celgene Corporation, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Rakuten Aspyrian Inc. (now known as Rakuten Medical), EMD Serono Inc., NewLink Genetics Corporation, and Genocea Biosciences. The study was supported by the Oral Cancer Foundation and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Gillison is a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar.


Gillison ML et al. JAMA Oncol. 2019 May 2. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0439.