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Epstein-Barr virus EBV.

HPV and Head & Neck Cancer

Exposure to EBV, which is more commonly known as the virus that causes mononucleosis or "mono," plays a role in the development of nasopharyngeal cancer. Men are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to develop head and neck cancer. However, the rate of head and neck cancer in women has been rising for several decades.

Poor oral and dental hygiene. Poor care of the mouth and teeth may increase the risk of head and neck cancer. Environmental or occupational inhalants. Marijuana use.

Study uncovers molecular alterations in head and neck cancers, potential drug targets

Research suggests that people who have used marijuana may be at higher risk for head and neck cancer. Poor nutrition. Reflux of stomach acid into the upper airway and throat may be associated with the development of head and neck cancer. Weakened immune system. Different factors cause different types of cancer.

Researchers continue to look into what factors cause this type of cancer, including ways to prevent it. Although there is no proven way to completely prevent this disease, you may be able to lower your risk.

Talk with your health care team for more information about your personal risk of cancer. Stopping the use of all tobacco products is the most important thing a person can do to reduce their risk, even for people who have been smoking for many years. Other steps that can reduce the risk of head and neck cancer include:. Using sunscreen regularly , including lip balm with an adequate sun protection factor SPF. Reducing your risk of HPV infection by receiving the HPV vaccine or by limiting your number of sexual partners, since having many partners increases the risk of HPV infection. Using a condom during sex cannot fully protect you from HPV.

Maintaining proper care of dentures. People who wear dentures should have their dentures evaluated by a dentist at least every 5 years to ensure a good fit.

What Are the Symptoms of Oropharyngeal Cancer?

Dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and rinsed thoroughly every day. The next section in this guide is Screening. It explains how tests may find cancer before signs or symptoms appear. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide. There are 2 substances that greatly increase the risk of developing a head and neck cancer: Tobacco.


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People over the age of 40 are at higher risk for head and neck cancer. Prevention Different factors cause different types of cancer. Other steps that can reduce the risk of head and neck cancer include: Avoiding alcohol Discussing marijuana as a risk factor with your doctor and avoiding marijuana use Using sunscreen regularly , including lip balm with an adequate sun protection factor SPF Reducing your risk of HPV infection by receiving the HPV vaccine or by limiting your number of sexual partners, since having many partners increases the risk of HPV infection.

Doctors are finding that some patients can be cured with way less treatment.

The researchers discovered a gene panel that distinguished this subgroup and appeared predictive of outcome in multiple independent cohorts. Standard care for HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers is a combination of chemotherapy and radiation with a five-year survival rate of approximately 85 percent, compared to just 55 percent for HPV-negative cancers, explained Curtis Pickering, Ph.

To better understand the role of HPV biology in patient outcome and identify biomarkers associated with treatment response, the research team analyzed data from 80 oropharyngeal cancers included in The Cancer Genome Atlas TCGA. That was biologically interesting, but one HPV-positive subgroup had survival similar to those of HPV-negative patients. The researchers found an initial panel of genes that distinguished these three subgroups — a high HPV group, a low HPV group and an HPV-negative group — each with statistically significant survival differences.

HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer

Further analyses led to a panel of just 38 genes that are able to distinguish between the two HPV-positive subgroups. A variety of genetic analyses confirmed the distinction between these groups, and the researchers discovered two viral genes not generally thought to be important for tumor progression that were significantly different between the HPV-positive groups.

Further, cell line studies showed these genes to be correlated with radiation sensitivity, in alignment with responses seen in patients. Recognizing the potential value of this gene signature for predicting treatment response, the researchers evaluated the biomarker in two independent patient cohorts of HPV-related oropharyngeal and cervical cancers. In each case, the gene panel appeared to be prognostic of survival and performed better than available clinical factors, such as smoking status and tumor size. After further refining their gene panel, the researchers believe that the biomarker could be reduced to as small as a single gene with similar prognostic ability.

The current retrospective study was limited by relatively small cohort sizes and reliance on RNA sequencing data; therefore the research team hopes to evaluate their biomarker in prospective trials after developing an assay sufficient for clinical use. The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists. My Chart. Donate Today.

HPV risk for oral cancer - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

For Physicians. Cancer Moonshots. Novel biomarker appears predictive of outcome in patients with HPV-related head and neck cancers Gene signature may allow clinicians to better stratify patients and reduce treatment intensity to lower side effects MD Anderson News Release January 10, Media Specialist Contact Clayton R.