Comparison of psychosocial factors over time among HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer and tobacco-related oral cavity cancer patients

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American journal of otolaryngology


INTRODUCTION: The role of human papilloma virus (HPV) in the pathogenesis of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is well documented, as is the excellent prognosis of patients with HPV-associated disease; in contrast, oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) is associated with tobacco and alcohol use and has a worse prognosis. While causative factors, staging, and treatment guidelines differ between these cancer subsets, few studies have compared psychosocial factors in these groups.

OBJECTIVE: To explore differences in psychosocial factors between HPV+ OPSCC patients versus OCSCC smokers.

METHODS: A prospective cohort study at a single multidisciplinary, tertiary care HNC center was completed with recruitment from 2010 to 2013 using self-administered questionnaires before treatment and at 12 months. Patients were included with a diagnosis of HPV+ OPSCC or OCSCC with a smoking history. 38 (21 HPV+ OPSCC/17 OCSCC) met criteria. The main outcomes included self-efficacy, symptom severity, cancer worry, and depression.

RESULTS: A total of 38 (21 HPV+ OPSCC/17 OCSCC) patients (mean age: 57 [32-76], 73.7% male, 78.9% Caucasian, 71% stage IV) met inclusion criteria. OPSCC patients tended to be of male sex, Caucasian race, and single. Furthermore, OPSCC patients were more likely than OCSCC patients to have private insurance, be employed, and use alcohol and tobacco less frequently. Regarding psychosocial factors, HPV+ OPSCC patients reported lower symptom severity (2.7 versus 3.3), depression (12.0 versus 14.0) and cancer worry (2.8 versus 3.2) at baseline compared to OCSCC patients. Depression decreased significantly over time in OPSCC patients (12.0 to 9.9; effect size: -3.2 (95% CI: -5.9 to -0.4)). Although not statistically significant, cancer worry decreased in both groups (2.8 to 2.4 and 3.2 to 2.7, respectively, effect sizes: -0.3 (95% CI: -0.7-0.08) and -0.6 (95% CI: -1.2-0.05), respectively). No statistically significant differences in patterns of change over time were noted between groups.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This pilot study highlighted a pattern of reduced quality of life parameters in OCSCC patients at baseline with similar improvements over time compared to the OPSCC cohort. Although different in cancer etiology and treatment plans, HPV+ OPSCC and tobacco-related OCSCC patients both require multidisciplinary cancer care plans that address psychosocial concerns.


Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aged; Carcinoma, Squamous Cell; Cohort Studies; Depression; Emotions; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Mouth Neoplasms; Oropharyngeal Neoplasms; Papillomaviridae; Quality of Life; Self Efficacy; Severity of Illness Index; Smoking; Socioeconomic Factors; Time Factors

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