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HPV Question

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2009

When I was initially diagnosed with base of tongue cancer, my doctor asked about smoking and alcohol abuse. He never mentioned HPV. I was not aware of HPV as being a cause of oral cancers, even after my chemotherapy and radiation. Now, several months later, I ask my doctor if HPV was a factor in my cancer. he said they never tested my cancer cells at the time of the biopsy and that was the Mayo Clinic. Now I wonder why they never did and my doctor never mentioned it? Any ideas??

Posts: 22
Joined: Sep 2009

A nurse friend of mine found this post http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/081109/page2 from August 11 pointing out the relationship between HPV and tongue cancer. It's very recent news.

The good news is that, if I read this correctly, typical base of tongue treatment is more aggressive than this research indicates it needs to be, meaning you hopefully have not been undertreated, but I'd ask my doctor to interpret this article in the context of your treatment.

In my case, I ended up with eight weeks combined weekly chemo and daily IMRT.


jkinobay's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2007

Please refer to a previous post by cutting and pasting the following URL in your browser:


There is a lot of information out there.

Question for your Pathologist: Was your cancer Squamous Cell Carcinoma? And, do they still have enough of frozen specimens to screen for HPV? Hopefully so.

That is what happened in my case. First diagnosis was adenocarcinoma in a branchial cleft cyst. Second opinion, different Lab and Pathologist at MD Anderson, showed SCC that was HPV 16 positive. Also, the "cyst" was in fact lymphnodes.

Not bad news as it turned out. HPV positive cancers, as you may read and learn, treat with a significantly higher success rate than HPV negative cancers.

From what I read about 85% of humans have one form or another of HPV (100+ varieties). With respect to HNC (head and neck cancer) a large portion are HPV high-risk (16 or 18) positive. Especially if it is Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Hope this info helps. If not, let me know. I have a ton.


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

I just finished treatments for tonsil cancer (stage 3 SCC). My ENT was very proactive and aware of HPV related cancers. That was actually one of the first things he mentioned once diagnosed as I have never smoked or been a tobacco user.

He removed my tonsils and had a biopsy ordered which did indeed come back as HPV derived. As mentioned also HPV related cancers tend to respond better to treatments than non-HPV related. I'm not really sure if the treatments are ordered any differently or not. My treatments were pretty much determined before the HPV results came back and I was well into treatment by then.

I think my treatments were pretty aggressive as is because of being in good health and the ability to tolerate the treatments. I had nine weeks (three week cycles of Cisplaten, Taxotere, and 5FU (5FU injected with a pump 24/7 for four days). After that I did an additional seven weeks of concurrent chemo and radiation. Every Monday I had Carboplaten and 35 radiation exposures every week-day with Amifostine injections in my stomach immediately before the radiation.

I'm now about 3+ months out of treatment and the initial PET scan show no signs of the cancer...praying it stays that way.

Good Luck and Take care,

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