Primary tumor volume and prognosis for patients with p16-positive and p16-negative oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma treated with radiation therapy

Gabriel Adrian, Henrik Carlsson, Elisabeth Kjellén, Johanna Sjövall, Björn Zackrisson, Per Nilsson, Maria Gebre-Medhin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The prescribed radiation dose to patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is standardized, even if the prognosis for individual patients may differ. Easy-at-hand pre-treatment risk stratification methods are valuable to individualize therapy. In the current study we assessed the prognostic impact of primary tumor volume for p16-positive and p16-negative tumors and in relationship to other prognostic factors for outcome in patients with OPSCC treated with primary radiation therapy (RT). Methods: Five hundred twenty-three OPSCC patients with p16-status treated with primary RT (68.0 Gy to 73.1 Gy in 7 weeks, or 68.0 Gy in 4.5 weeks), with or without concurrent chemotherapy, within three prospective trials were included in the study. Local failure (LF), progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in relationship to the size of the primary gross tumor volume (GTV-T) and other prognostic factors were investigated. Efficiency of intensified RT (RT with total dose 73.1 Gy or given within 4.5 weeks) was analyzed in relationship to tumor volume. Results: The volume of GTV-T and p16-status were found to be the strongest prognostic markers for LF, PFS and OS. For p16-positive tumors, an increase in tumor volume had a significantly higher negative prognostic impact compared with p16-negative tumors. Within a T-classification, patients with a smaller tumor, compared with a larger tumor, had a better prognosis. The importance of tumor volume remained after adjusting for nodal status, age, performance status, smoking status, sex, and hemoglobin-level. The adjusted hazard ratio for OS per cm3 increase in tumor volume was 2.3% (95% CI 0–4.9) for p16-positive and 1.3% (95% 0.3–2.2) for p16-negative. Exploratory analyses suggested that intensified RT could mitigate the negative impact of a large tumor volume. Conclusions: Outcome for patients with OPSCC treated with RT is largely determined by tumor volume, even when adjusting for other established prognostic factors. Tumor volume is significantly more influential for patients with p16-positive tumors. Patients with large tumor volumes might benefit by intensified RT to improve survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalRadiation Oncology
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology

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