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Science in the News

Study Evaluates Use of Oral Rinse in Detection of HPV-Related Oropharyngeal Cancer Recurrence After Treatment

July 30, 2015

Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection is associated with most of the oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) in the U.S.,1 and HPV 16 is the most common form of the HPV virus found in those with OPSCC.2 A study in JAMA Oncology3 suggests that oral rinse samples may have utility as a method to monitor those treated for HPV 16 positive OPSCC for subsequent disease progression.

The paper reports on results from a multisite study analyzing oral rinse samples from individuals after OPSCC treatment. Of 124 study subjects in which HPV 16 was detected at the time of the OPSCC diagnosis, only 5% had HPV 16 present in oral rinse samples taken at 9,12,18 or 24 months after treatment. The presence of HPV 16 in oral rinse samples was not associated with disease-free survival or overall survival. However, while one individual appeared to clear the virus during the follow-up period, 5 of the 6 individuals with persistent HPV 16 went on to develop recurrent disease. 

The study seems very timely, coming on the heels of the Pan American Health Organization/WHO meeting to strategize about prevention, screening, and treatment of HPV positive oral pharyngeal cancer in the Americas, which was the first such interdisciplinary meeting to include dental researchers and health professionals. 

1. Chaturvedi, A.K., et al., Human papillomavirus and rising oropharyngeal cancer incidence in the United States. J Clin Oncol 2011;29(32):4294-301.
2. Smith, E.M., et al., Age, sexual behavior and human papillomavirus infection in oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. Int J Cancer 2004;108(5):766-72.
3. Rettig, E.M., et al. Prognostic Implication of Persistent Human Papillomavirus Type 16 DNA Detection in Oral Rinses for Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Carcinoma. JAMA Oncology, online Accessed July 30, 2015.

About Science in the News

Science in the News is a service by the American Dental Association (ADA) to its members to present current information about science topics in the news. The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public's oral health, ethics, science and professional advancement; leading a unified profession through initiatives in advocacy, education, research and the development of standards. As a science-based organization, the ADA's evaluation of the scientific evidence may change as more information becomes available. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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