From the Journals

ASCO: Deintensified treatment in p16+ oropharyngeal cancer needs evaluation



Treatment deintensification for patients with p16+ oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) should occur only in the context of a clinical trial, according to a provisional clinical opinion released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

“The hypothesis that deescalation of treatment intensity for patients with p16+ OPC can reduce long-term toxicity without compromising survival is compelling and necessitates careful study and the analysis of well-designed clinical trials before changing current treatment standards, wrote David J. Adelstein, MD, of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, along with his associates on the expert panel. Their report is in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The panel undertook a review of the literature for evidence pertaining to the treatment of patients with HPV-mediated p16+ OPC with radiation, transoral surgery, concomitant chemoradiotherapy, and chemotherapy, in addition to immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Both randomized and nonrandomized studies were included in the review, and expert consensus opinion was taken into consideration.

After the review, the panelists concluded that the presumption that deintensified treatment in patients with p16+ OPC can lower long-term adverse effects without impacting survival is still a hypothesis that warrants further testing. While early findings of deintensified treatment techniques show promise, current treatment recommendations have not changed, they said.

“The standard of care for the definitive nonoperative management of cisplatin-eligible patients with advanced disease is concurrent chemoradiation with high-dose cisplatin given every 3 weeks,” the panel wrote. “For patients undergoing initial surgical resection, adjuvant chemoradiation with concurrent high-dose cisplatin given every 3 weeks is recommended for patients with positive margins and/or extranodal tumor extension,” they added.

At present, they recommend that deintensified treatment for patients with p16+ OPC should occur only in the context of a clinical trial.

The panel acknowledged that establishing definitive recommendations for all possible clinical scenarios is challenging because of restrictive exclusion criteria in key clinical trials. As a result, the accuracy of outcome data may be limited to specific patient populations.

More information on the provisional clinical opinion is available on the ASCO website.

ASCO funded the study. The authors reported financial affiliations with AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Genentech, PDS Biotechnology, and several others.

SOURCE: Adelstein DJ et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Apr 25. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.00441.

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