What differences should there be in the way we treat HPV +ve and HPV -ve squamous cell cancer of the head and neck?


Session type:

Kevin Harrington1
1The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK


HPV +ve squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (SCCHN) mainly affects the oropharynx and occurs predominantly in younger patients who are frequently life-long non-smokers. These patients are, on average, fitter than their HPV -ve counterparts and have fewer co-morbid conditions. Across all types of treatment modality (surgery, radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy), patients with HPV +ve tumours have been shown to have better treatment outcomes than HPV -ve patients. In addition, their younger age and greater likelihood of being cured of their disease means that HPV +ve patients may have to live for many decades with the treatment-related sequelae of curative regimens. Such considerations have resulted in a significant move towards personalised treatment for patients with HPV +ve (and, by extension, HPV -ve) disease. Currently, controversy exists regarding the role of induction chemotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, targeted therapy and surgery in this group of patients. In addition, the potential impact of new developments in targeted monoclonal antibody-based immunotherapy is being considered in the context of HPV +ve and HPV -ve disease.

In this presentation, current treatment strategies for HPV +ve and HPV -ve SCCHN will be discussed. In addition, ongoing trials will be reviewed and future directions for personalised therapies will be discussed.