Women have a lower risk of death from oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) compared to their male counterparts, according to new research. The lower mortality risk occurred with human papillomavirus (HPV) positive and negative OPC.
The study, published in Oral Oncology, found a five-year overall survival of 50 per cent (95% CI 43.9-54.9) among 321 patients. HPV16-positive OPC cases were at significantly lower risk of death (adjusted HR [aHR] 0.51; 95% CI 0.32-0.80). Female patients had a 50 per cent lower risk of death than males (aHR 0.50: 95% CI 0.29-0.85). Being underweight at diagnosis more than doubled the mortality risk (aHR 2.41; 95% CI 1.38-4.21).
Although smoking was associated with higher risk of death among OPC patients in the univariate analysis, none of the associations remained significant in the multivariable models. Inclusion of stage and HPV16 status in the models significantly mitigated the effect of smoking. However, the authors note that the number of subjects with less than 10-pack-years of smoking were limited, and therefore the absence of an association could be due to limited power.
Higher stage at diagnosis appeared as the only factor significantly associated with OPC recurrence (adjusted HR 4.88; 95% CI 2.12-11.21).