Treatment outcomes and survival following definitive (chemo)radiotherapy in HPV-positive oropharynx cancer: Large-scale comparison of DAHANCA vs PMH cohorts

Pernille Lassen, Shao Hui Huang, Jie Su, John Waldron, Maria Andersen, Hanne Primdahl, Jørgen Johansen, Claus Andrup Kristensen, Elo Andersen, Jesper Grau Eriksen, Christian Rønn Hansen, Jan Alsner, Jacob Lilja-Fisher, Scott V Bratman, Jolie Ringash, John Kim, Andrew Hope, Anna Spreafico, John de Almeida, Wei XuBrian O'Sullivan, Jens Overgaard

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2 Citations (Scopus)


We compare outcomes in two large-scale contemporaneously treated HPV-positive (HPV+) oropharynx cancer (OPC) cohorts treated with definitive radiotherapy/chemoradiotherapy (RT/CRT). p16-confirmed HPV+ OPC treated between 2007 and 2015 at PMH and DAHANCA were identified. Locoregional failure (LRF), distant metastasis (DM), and overall survival (OS) were compared. Multivariable analysis (MVA) calculated adjusted-hazard-ratio (aHR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI), adjusting for cohort, age, gender, performance status, smoking pack-years, T-category and N-category and chemotherapy. Compared to PMH (n = 701), DAHANCA (n = 1174) contained lower TNM-8T-categories (T1-T2: 77% vs 56%), N-categories (N0-N1: 77% vs 67%) and stages (stage I: 63% vs 44% (all P < .001). PMH used standard-fractionation CRT in 69% (481) while 31% (220) received hypofractionated or moderately accelerated RT-alone. All DAHANCA patients were treated with moderately accelerated RT; 96% (1129) received nimorazole (NIM) and 73% (856) concurrent weekly cisplatin. DAHANCA had shorter overall-treatment-time (P < .001), lower gross tumor (66-68 vs 70 Gy) and elective neck (50 vs 56 Gy) doses. Median follow-up was 4.8 years. DAHANCA had higher 5-year LRF (13% vs 7%, aHR = 0.47 [0.34-0.67]), comparable DM (7% vs 12%, aHR = 1.32 [0.95-1.82]), but better OS (85% vs 80%, aHR = 1.30 [1.01-1.68]). CRT patients had a lower risk of LRF (aHR 0.56 [0.39-0.82]), DM (aHR 0.70 [0.50-1.00]) and death (aHR 0.39 [0.29-0.52]) vs RT-alone. We observed exemplary outcomes for two large-scale trans-Atlantic HPV+ OPC cohorts treated in a similar manner. Concurrent chemotherapy was a strong, independent prognostic factor for all endpoints. Our findings underscore the need for a very careful approach to de-intensification of treatment for this disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1329-1340
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2021 UICC.


  • (chemo)radiotherapy
  • HPV
  • oropharynx cancer


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