Background and Purpose: Circulating tumour (ct) human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA is detectable in HPV-related oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPSCC) patients and has the potential to become an important clinical tool. This study aimed to evaluate the prognostic significance of ctHPV16-DNA kinetics during treatment with chemoradiotherapy in HPV-related OPSCC. Patients with p16-positive OPSCC recruited to the ARTSCAN III trial, comparing radiotherapy plus cisplatin with radiotherapy plus cetuximab, constituted the study cohort. Materials and methods: Blood samples before start and at the end of treatment of 136 patients were analysed. ctHPV16-DNA was quantified by real-time (q)PCR. The correlation between ctHPV16-DNA levels and tumour burden was investigated with Pearson regression analysis. The prognostic value of ctHPV16-DNA levels at baseline and decline during treatment was evaluated by area-under-the-curve (AUC) calculations and analysed with univariable and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models. Results: ctHPV16-DNA was detectable with qPCR in 108/136 patients before start of treatment and cleared in 74% of these patients at the end of treatment. Disease burden was significantly correlated with baseline ctHPV16-DNA levels (R = 0.39, p=<0.001). Both lower baseline levels and AUC-ctHPV16DNA were associated with improved progression-free survival (p = 0.01 and p < 0.001), overall survival (p = 0.013 and p = 0.002), but not local tumour control (p = 0.12 and p = 0.2, respectively), with a stronger association for AUC-ctHPV16DNA (likelihood ratio test 10.5 vs 6.5 in Cox regression analyses of progression-free survival). In multivariable analysis including tumour volume (GTV-T) and treatment allocation (cisplatin vs cetuximab), AUC-ctHPV16DNA remained a significant prognostic marker of progression-free survival. Conclusion: ctHPV16-DNA is an independent prognostic factor in HPV-related OPSCC.
- Cancer och onkologi