1 Oncology, Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, SDU3 unknown4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, SDU5 Oncology, Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU
BACKGROUND: HPV/p16-positive head and neck cancers (HNSCC) show superior response to radiotherapy, compared with virus-negative tumours. Tumour hypoxia induces radioresistance and the randomised DAHANCA 5 trial found that the hypoxic cell radiosensitiser nimorazole significantly improved the outcome in HNSCC. Using p16-status as a retrospective stratification parameter, we aimed to assess the influence of p16-expression on the response to nimorazole in HNSCC. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pre-treatment tumour blocks were available from 331 of the 414 patients in the DAHANCA 5 trial and evaluated by immunohistochemistry for p16-expression. The influence of p16-expression on outcome was analysed as a function of treatment group (nimorazole/placebo) 5 years after radiotherapy. RESULTS: Overall, patients treated with nimorazole had significantly better loco-regional control than did those given placebo: hazard ratio (HR) 0.70 [95% CI 0.52-0.93]. Positive expression of p16 also significantly improved outcome after radiotherapy (0.41 [0.28-0.61]). In the subgroup of patients with p16-negative tumours, loco-regional failure was more frequent in the placebo group than in the nimorazole group (0.69 [0.50-0.95]). However, in the p16-positive group, patients treated with nimorazole had a loco-regional control rate similar to patients given placebo (0.93 [0.45-1.91]). CONCLUSIONS: HPV/p16-expression significantly improved outcome after radiotherapy in HNSCC. Hypoxic modification improved outcome in HPV/p16-negative tumours but was of no significant benefit in HPV/p16-positive tumours, suggesting that hypoxic radioresistance may not be clinically relevant in these tumours.
Radiotherapy and Oncology, 2010, Vol 94, Issue 1, p. 30-5