Quality of life in head and neck cancer patients: Impact of HPV and primary treatment modality

Jessica H. Maxwell, Vikas Mehta, Hong Wang, Diana Cunningham, Umamaheswar Duvvuri, Seungwon Kim, Jonas Johnson, Robert L. Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis To determine posttreatment quality of life (QOL) in head and neck cancer patients, stratifying by human papillomavirus (HPV)/p16 status and primary treatment modality. Study Design Retrospective study. Methods One hundred and seventy-seven patients (N=177) with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and known HPV/p16 status were included. All patients completed at least one baseline or posttreatment University of Washington QOL survey. QOL scores were averaged and compared across patients, stratifying by HPV/p16 status and primary treatment modality (surgical vs. nonsurgical). In the analysis, p16 was used as a surrogate marker for HPV. Results Of the 177 patients, 80 (45.2%) were p16-positive and 49.7% of subsites were oropharyngeal. Nearly 60% (105/177) of patients underwent primary surgery, 26.7% (28/105) of patients with transoral robotic or laser techniques. The remainder 40.7% of patients underwent primary radiation and/or chemotherapy. Overall, QOL scores were better for p16-positive patients compared to p16-negative patients at baseline (P=0.008), at 6 months posttreatment (P=0.034), and at greater than 1 year posttreatment (P=0.013). P16-positive patients had better QOL scores in speech (P=0.0009), chewing (P=0.0004), and swallowing (P=0.021) after 1 year posttreatment compared to p16-negative patients. Primary treatment modality did not affect overall QOL or any of the 12 QOL categories in p16-positive patients at any time point. At over 1 year posttreatment, QOL was at or above baseline in both p16-positive treatment groups. Conclusion The p16-positive patients had better baseline and posttreatment overall QOL compared to p16-negative patients. The overall and category specific QOL scores for p16-positive patients were not affected by primary treatment modality. Level of Evidence 4. Laryngoscope, 124:1592-1597, 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1592-1597
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • HPV
  • Quality of life
  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • p16

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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