Molecular Features and Treatment Modalities of “Classic” Versus Human Papilloma Virus-Associated Head and Neck Cancer

Part of the Current Cancer Research book series (CUCR)


Human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) represents a unique disease entity, with distinct epidemiological and molecular characteristics from those of tobacco- and alcohol-related SCCHN, resulting in different biological and clinical tumor behavior. The implication of HPV in the pathogenesis of a subset of SCCHN patients has generated the hypothesis that vaccine-induced immune response against HPV may provide substantial clinical benefit; however, the impact of prophylactic HPV vaccines on the incidence of HPV-associated SCCHN remains to be clarified. Preliminary evidence also shows that therapeutic HPV vaccines are able to induce potent, HPV-specific, immune responses that correlate with tumor regression, and therapeutic HPV vaccines are currently undergoing intense investigation in early clinical trials, especially in the subset of patients with oropharyngeal cancer. The question of de-escalation of treatment in the favorable prognosis subset of patients with HPV-associated disease is also currently being explored in clinical trials in an effort to minimize unnecessary toxicity without compromising therapeutic efficacy.


Squamous cell cancer of the head and neck Human papilloma virus HPV-related vaccine Oropharyngeal cancer Dose de-escalation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Athens School of MedicineAthensGreece
  2. 2.National Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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