Despite recent advances in surgical technology and chemoradiation regimens, no significant improvement has been seen in the survival rate of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in more than 3 decades. Examples of new and remarkable clinical strategies such as epidermal growth factor receptor(EGFR) targeted therapy and the status of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection in oropharyngeal carcinoma have attracted attention over the years.
Molecular-targeted therapy has been approved in Europe and the United States as standard treatment for HNSCC and has shown significant effect with conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, the therapeutic effect is heterogeneous as is the case with other cancers, and problems have also been highlighted such as acquired resistance associated with long-term treatment.
Recent studies have shown that a subset of HNSCC, especially in the oropharynx, is caused by HPV infection and that the clinical outcome of patients can be clearly distinguished based on their HPV status. Patients with HPV(+) tumors have a more favorable prognosis compared to HPV(−) patients. The use of the HPV status as a marker for personalized treatment has been anticipated. In this paper, we show our recent data on EGFR-targeted therapy and the clinical outcome of patients depending on their HPV status, and we discuss the future of translational research in HNSCC.
2012 The Society of Practical Otolaryngology