How Tobacco Use Impacts Prognosis in HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer Patients


Each year, approximately 600,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancers worldwide. A little less than 50% of those patients survive the cancer. Patients older than 60 years of age have a likelier chance to already have a heavy reliance on alcohol and/or tobacco. In the US the number of head and neck cancers caused by alcohol and tobacco are dwindling but there are an increased number of cases caused by HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer in patients younger than 60 years.

With two main risk factors involved, Mount Sinai’s data reported that HPV-associated cancer patient had a higher progression-free survival rate and locoregional control rate than patients that were HPV-negative. HPV-positive patients who were also smoker had slightly lower ratings than non-smokers that were HPV-positive but still significantly higher rating than HPV-negative nonsmokers and smokers.

The data is based on the TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) that is used to perform non-invasive surgery on patients with oral, head and neck cancers. The advanced surgical equipment is proven to successfully improve the management of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer regardless of tobacco usage.

​The team in Mount Sinai have created a series of clinical trials to combat against the rapid increase of oropharyngeal cancer and thyroid cancer patient cases. They have highlighted a few of clinical trials and can be read in one of their latest edition of ResearchFocus.

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As a decade-long survivor of stage IV tongue cancer and Founder of WesternOhio Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Support, Hank refers to head and neck cancer as an “orphan” cancer: “Very little is known about head and neck cancer, and comparatively, it receives less attention than other cancers. HNCA is working to change this.Hank Deneski
Survivor of Stage IV tongue cancer and Founder of WesternOhio Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Support

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