HPV and the Immune System in Head and Neck Cancers: Therapeutic Considerations

Madison Grinnell, Mridula Krishnan, Apar Kishor Ganti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Immunotherapy applications for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are rapidly evolving. The progress towards immunotherapy has demonstrated improved outcomes for patients with HNSCC. Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated HNSCC has a much better prognosis and differs from HPV-negative HNSCC in its genomic and immunologic profile, with strikingly higher immune cell activation and infiltration. Despite an increased incidence of HPV-associated HNSCC, and differences in immune signature based on HPV status, the management does not differ from non-HPV tumors. Clinical trials are ongoing to integrate immunotherapy in the management of early- and late-stage HNSCC, and its current use is limited to the metastatic setting. This article describes the role of immune therapy in HPV-associated HNSCC along with the evidence and perspective behind differing therapeutic considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 10 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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