The "new" head and neck cancer patient - Young, nonsmoker, nondrinker, and HPV positive: Evaluation

Daniel G. Deschler, Jeremy D. Richmon, Samir S. Khariwala, Robert L. Ferris, Marilene B. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Objective. The near epidemic rise of the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC) presents the practitioner with a "new" head and neck cancer patient, vastly different from those with the traditional risk factors who formed the basis of most practitioners' training experience. Accordingly, a thorough and disease-specific evaluation process is necessitated. This article will review the evaluation of the HPV-related cancer patient, including a review of the HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer epidemic from the surgeon's perspective, evaluation of the primary lesion, evaluation of the neck mass, and role of imaging, to provide a framework for addressing the challenging questions patients may ask. Data Sources. Available peer-reviewed literature and practice guidelines. Review Methods. Assessment of selected specific topics by authors solicited from the Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology Committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation and the American Head and Neck Society. Conclusions and Implications for Practice. The dramatic rise in OPSSC related to HPV is characterized by a "new" cancer patient who is younger and lacks traditional risk factors. Today's caregiver must be prepared to appropriately evaluate, counsel, and treat these patients with HPV-positive disease with the expectation that traditional treatment algorithms will evolve to maintain or improve current excellent cure rates while lessening treatment related side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-380
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • management neck mass
  • oropharyngeal cancer
  • unknown primary


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