Serum HPV May Serve as a Biomarker for Some Oropharyngeal Cancers

Understanding the likely prognosis of oropharyngeal cancers may soon become a bit easier. Researchers are looking at the potential of using serum HPV antibody levels as biomarkers to indicate the likelihood of recurrence in certain forms of the disease.

Oropharyngeal cancers are those that form in the middle part of the throat. They can include cancers of the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and even the walls of the pharynx. It is estimated that about 80 percent of these cancers involve HPV infections in a person’s past. Cancers that are caused by HPV virus in the throat are often quite treatable, but recurrence is a plaguing concern. It is estimated that more than 25 percent of HPV-positive cancers recur within the first two years of treatment.

Hoping to gain better insights on the likelihood of recurrence, researchers have been delving into possible tests to assist. Serum HPV may provide insights. A recent study that looked at four specific HPV antibodies found that patients with certain antibodies were seven times more likely to witness a recurrence than patients with lower levels. Although more research is required, the findings are significant in that they may one day help doctors determine which patients require the most active follow-up to guard against recurrence. This can open the door to early detection and more effective treatment in cases of recurrence.

HPV or the human papilloma virus has been liked to a number of potentially fatal cancers. This virus can be safeguarded against courtesy of relatively new vaccinations. Considering HPV’s connection to oropharyngeal and cervical cancers, it is strongly recommended that parents consider vaccination for both boys and girls. The three-shot series should ideally be given around the age of 11, but can be given to older children and young adults, as well, as a preventative against HPV-driven forms of cancer. Parents interested in protecting against HPV should take to their children’s healthcare providers.

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