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Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

p16 protein expression and human papillomavirus status as prognostic biomarkers of nonoropharyngeal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.


PMID 25267748

Abstract

Although p16 protein expression, a surrogate marker of oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, is recognized as a prognostic marker in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), its prevalence and significance have not been well established in cancer of the oral cavity, hypopharynx, or larynx, collectively referred as non-OPSCC, where HPV infection is less common than in the oropharynx. p16 expression and high-risk HPV status in non-OPSCCs from RTOG 0129, 0234, and 0522 studies were determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH). Hazard ratios from Cox models were expressed as positive or negative, stratified by trial, and adjusted for clinical characteristics. p16 expression was positive in 14.1% (12 of 85), 24.2% (23 of 95), and 19.0% (27 of 142) and HPV ISH was positive in 6.5% (six of 93), 14.6% (15 of 103), and 6.9% (seven of 101) of non-OPSCCs from RTOG 0129, 0234, and 0522 studies, respectively. Hazard ratios for p16 expression were 0.63 (95% CI, 0.42 to 0.95; P = .03) and 0.56 (95% CI, 0.35 to 0.89; P = .01) for progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS), respectively. Comparing OPSCC and non-OPSCC, patients with p16-positive OPSCC have better PFS and OS than patients with p16-positive non-OPSCC, but patients with p16-negative OPSCC and non-OPSCC have similar outcomes. Similar to results in patients with OPSCC, patients with p16-negative non-OPSCC have worse outcomes than patients with p16-positive non-OPSCC, and HPV may also have a role in outcome in a subset of non-OPSCC. However, further development of a p16 IHC scoring system in non-OPSCC and improvement of HPV detection methods are warranted before broad application in the clinical setting.