The impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) on nutritional outcomes

Jane Harrowfield, Elizabeth Isenring, Nicole Kiss, Erin Laing, Ruby Lipson-Smith, Ben Britton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)



Patients undergoing (chemo) radiotherapy for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) are at high risk of malnutrition during and after treatment. Malnutrition can lead to poor tolerance to treatment, treatment interruptions, poor quality of life (QOL) and poten-tially reduced survival rate. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now known as the major cause of OPSCC. However, research regarding its effect on nutritional outcomes is limited. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between HPV status and nutritional outcomes, including malnutrition and weight loss during and after patients’ (chemo) radiotherapy treatment for OPSCC. 

Methods: This was a longitudinal cohort study comparing the nutritional outcomes of HPV-posi-tive and negative OPSCC patients undergoing (chemo) radiotherapy. The primary outcome was nutritional status as measured using the Patient Generated-Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA). Secondary outcomes included loss of weight, depression, QOL and adverse events. 

Results: Although HPV-positive were less likely to be malnourished according to PG-SGA at the beginning of treatment, we found that the difference between malnutrition rates in response to treatment was not significantly different over the course of radiotherapy and 3 months post treatment. HPV-posi-tive participants had significantly higher odds of experiencing >10% weight loss at three months post-treatment than HPV-negative participants (OR = 49.68, 95% CI (2.7, 912.86) p ≤ 0.01). 

Conclusions: The nutritional status of HPV positive and negative patients were both negatively affected by treatment and require similarly intense nutritional intervention. In acute recovery, HPV positive patients may require more intense intervention. At 3-months post treatment, both groups still showed nutritional symptoms that require nutritional intervention so ongoing nutritional support is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number514
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


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