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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Human papilloma virus (HPV) as a cause of laryngeal cancer: new treatment options.

HPV-related head and neck cancers occur mainly in the oropharynx ( tonsils and the back of the tongue ).  However, a 2013 study from China found HPV infection, especially infection due to the high-risk type HPV-16, was found to be significantly associated with the risk of laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

Knowing whether one’s cancer was caused by HPV may help physicians determine the patient prognosis and survival.  Head and neck cancers caused by HPV infection tend to respond better to current treatments as compared to head and neck cancers caused by tobacco or alcohol use.  There are also new treatment options available to patients whose cancers are caused by HPV . These include vaccine clinical trials and treatment protocols that use less radiation and chemotherapy. These are easier for the patient to tolerate as they may generate fewer side effects.

The only way that head and neck cancers can be evaluated for the presence of HPV is to biopsy the lesion and test it for the presence of HPV DNA.  Patients who have already completed surgery, for head and neck cancer, can find out if their cancer is HPV related if the pathology sample is still available. 

Laryngeal cancer