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Aurora magazine

HPV and throat cancer: only a test

The HPV test, or the papilloma virus, could help locate some of the throat cancer. The tumors whose onset is linked to the virus, in fact, could respond to treatments in a different way. The discovery comes from the University of North Carolina.

Usually, HPV connects to the uterine tumor. In some cases, it also causes oropharyngeal cancers, thus affecting the basis of the tongue and the tonsils. Previous studies have shown that positive HPV patients with throat cancer respond better to the treatment. With a genetic test you could locate and choose lighter treatments.

Often to wipe away HPV tumors - less violent than others - it is enough to have the heaviest and less toxic therapies. Phase II of a clinical trial tested de-intensified treatments on patients with HPV cancers, with excellent results. According to the lead author of the study, Gaorav P. Gupta, liquid biopsy would help to figure out who to use this approach.

The researchers developed a test to detect HPV16 DNA in the blood. They tested it on 47 oropharyngeal cancer patients, identifying the virus in most participants. Those with lower levels of viruses suffer from more severe forms of cancer. Conversely, those with higher levels were also more manageable.
The study suggests that patients with low or zero HPV16 levels have a different genetic profile. Researchers are then looking for new genetic markers that help find the most serious cases.