Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated With Radiotherapy or Radiochemotherapy: Prognostic Role of TP53 and HPV Status

Carlo Fallai, Federica Perrone, Lisa Licitra, Silvana Pilotti, Laura Locati, Paolo Bossi, Ester Orlandi, Mauro Palazzi, Patrizia Olmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To study the prognostic value of the TP53 mutation and human papilloma virus (HPV) status in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). Methods and materials: The TP53 mutation and HPV status were analyzed in 78 cases of locoregionally advanced OPSCC. The possible correlation of these factors with locoregiownal control, relapse-free survival, disease-specific survival, and overall survival (OS) was also investigated. Results: Of these 78 cases, 22 had disruptive and 22 had non-disruptive (silent) TP53 mutations; the remaining 34 cases had wild-type (WT) TP53. HPV 16 DNA was found in 9 cases (11%), but all HPV-positive (HPV+) cases carried a functional p53 protein, except for 1 case that had a silent mutation. HPV+ patients fared better than HPV-negative (HPV-) patients in terms of all survival parameters, with highly statistically significant differences between the groups. Specifically, no distant metastases were observed in the HPV+ patients, whereas they occurred in 17% of the HPV- patients. However, no difference was observed between the WT TP53 and mutation group, even when this was analyzed in terms of disruptive and non-disruptive mutations. Regardless, treatment with chemotherapy nearly doubled the 5-year OS rates, both in the mutation (42% vs. 22%) and WT (30 vs. 16%) group, but only the mutation group showed improvement in all survival parameters. In addition, the second tumor-free 5-year survival rate was 72% in HPV- cases, but no second tumors were observed in HPV+ and WT p53 cases. Conclusions: Patients with HPV+ OPSCC have an excellent prognosis after radiochemotherapy, but cisplatin-based chemotherapy may not confer a satisfactory outcome, especially in WT cases, thereby justifying the additional or alternative use of taxanes and epidermal growth factor receptors inhibitors. Uncommon distant metastases and second tumors in the HPV+ group may be cause for clinicians to review the follow-up policies in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1059
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2009


  • HPV
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Radio-chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • TP53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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