Prospective Evaluation of Swallowing Symptoms in Human Papillomavirus-Associated Oropharynx Cancer


To demonstrate that the lack of significant swallowing-related symptoms in patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is attributable to smaller mucosal primaries. A validated dysphagia symptom questionnaire and eating assessment tool was prospectively provided to patients presenting with untreated human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancer at the University of Maryland from July 2017 to December 2018. A 10-item Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10) was completed by each patient prior to intervention. All EAT-10 data were collected prospectively. Patient demographic and oncologic characteristics were also obtained. Seventy consecutive patients were enrolled and included in the study. This study cohort included 66 (94%) male patients. Sixty (86%) of patients were Caucasian. The mean EAT-10 score was 3.77 (95% CI 2.04, 5.50). Fifty-two (74.3%) patients presented with normal swallowing (EAT-10 scores less than 3). Spearman correlation indicated there was a significant positive association between tumor size and EAT-10 score (r(68) = 0.429, p < 0.005), with larger tumors associated with increased swallowing-related symptoms. The majority of patients presenting with HPV-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma do not report any swallowing difficulties. Dysphagia-related symptoms are associated with large size tumors when they do occur.

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Correspondence to Julian D. Amin.

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Amin, J.D., Rodriggs, T., Weir, K.A. et al. Prospective Evaluation of Swallowing Symptoms in Human Papillomavirus-Associated Oropharynx Cancer. Dysphagia (2021).

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  • Human papillomavirus
  • Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma
  • EAT-10
  • Dysphagia