Oropharyngeal Cancer Survival Linked to Virus Infection

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Thursday, July 30, 2009

THURSDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- African-Americans with oropharyngeal cancer have worse survival than Caucasians, and worse survival is associated with a lower prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, according to a study published online July 29 in Cancer Prevention Research.

Kathleen Settle, M.D., from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed overall survival in 106 Caucasian and 95 African-American patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). They also prospectively analyzed overall survival in SCCHN patients who were part of a clinical trial, where 196 Caucasian and 28 African-American patients could be assessed for HPV status.

In the retrospective group, the researchers found significant racial differences in median overall survival for oropharyngeal cancer (69.4 months for Caucasians versus 25.2 months for African-Americans). The racial differences in survival were also observed in the prospective trial (70.6 months for Caucasians versus 20.9 months for African-Americans). HPV-positive oropharyngeal patients had significantly better median overall survival than HPV-negative patients (not reached versus 26.6 months; hazard ratio, 5.1). However, HPV positivity was significantly higher among Caucasian patients (34 versus 4 percent).

"Worse overall survival for black SCCHN patients was driven by oropharyngeal cancer outcomes, and that for black oropharyngeal cancer patients by a lower prevalence of HPV infection," Settle and colleagues conclude.

The study was supported by Sanofi-Aventis U.S., the State of Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund, and the Orokawa Foundation.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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