Oropharynx tumors should be tested for HPV
Article Thumbnail ImageMarch 15, 2011 -- Changes in the 2011 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Head and Neck Cancers Guidelines will refine and improve the treatment of these cancers, according to a presentation this week at the NCCN annual conference on Clinical Practice Guidelines and Quality Cancer Care in Hollywood, FL.
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One of the main changes is a recommendation that the workup for cancer of the oropharynx include testing of the tumor for human papillomavirus (HPV) p16, according to a story on Medscape.

The incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has increased noticeably in recent years, the story noted. In one study, conducted in Sweden, researchers found a progressive proportional increase in HPV detected in biopsies taken to diagnose oropharyngeal cancer, from 23.3% in the 1970s to 29% in the 1980s, 57% in the 1990s, 68% in 2000 to 2002, 77% in 2003 to 2205, and 93% in 2006 and 2007 (International Journal of Cancer, July 15, 2009, Vol. 125:2, pp. 362-366).

HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer appears to be "a new and distinct disease entity and is associated with better survival than non-HPV head and neck cancers," David Pfister, MD, chair of the NCCN Head and Neck Cancers Guidelines Committee, told Medscape.