Introduction Despite the human papillomavirus conferring a better prognosis in the primary treatment setting, the prognostic impact of viral status after treatment failure in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma patients is poorly understood. Methods We retrospectively identified 33 oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPC) patients with local and/or distant disease recurrence post-treatment, and looked at metastatic patterns, time to failure and survival patterns by HPV status. Results Median overall survival following local failure was not significantly different by HPV status (17 months for HPV+ vs. 14 months for HPV-, p = 0.23). However, following distant failures, HPV+ patients lived significantly longer than HPV- patients (median 42 months vs. 11 months, p = 0.004). HPV- patients were more likely to have locoregional failures as compared to HPV+ patients (p = 0.005), but the difference in distant failure between both groups was not significant (p = 0.09). HPV+ patients were more likely to develop metastases to sites other than the lung and bones. Conclusion HPV positivity predicts a favorable prognosis with the potential for long-term survival following distant, not locoregional, failures. These results have important implications for the aggressiveness of treatment and type of surveillance imaging performed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181108
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


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