In 2013, 42,440 adults in the U.S. were diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer (OPC), the majority at late stages, with an estimated five-year survival of 50% and a high rate of recurrence. Among those who survive, surgery and chemoradiotherapy leave patients with long-term pain, disfigurement, and disability that further add to the burden of the disease. Each year, OPCs are responsible for ~10,000 deaths, 130,000 years of potential life lost, and ~$3 billion in productivity loss. Earlier OPC diagnoses increase likelihood of single- modality treatment, lower the risk of mortality, decrease medical expenditures, and improve quality of life. HPV causes ~70% of OPCs in the US, with the proportion of OPCs due to HPV increasing each year. Incidence rates of HPV-related OPCs are also ~3-fold higher in males compared to females. While there is substantial literature regarding the natural history of genital HPV infection and progression to cervical cancer, little has been published on the natural history of oral HPV infection, thus limiting the development of OPC prevention interventions. Unlike cervical and anal cancers, no screening tests are available for OPC, nor have current HPV vaccines been evaluated for efficacy against these cancers. Therefore, in this grant application we propose to study oral HPV natural history through an established prospective cohort of average risk men, information urgently needed to inform the development of future prevention strategies, including clinically relevant screening tools. The HIM Study is the only male prospective study that has the cohort infrastructure and archived oral specimens to fill this critical research void. The overall goal of this research is to define the natural history of oral HPV infection to inform future development of OPC prevention and screening interventions. The central hypothesis is that viral, host, and behavioral factors are predictive of oral HPV infections that are most likely to persist ?12 months (surrogate cancer endpoint), infections most likely to progress to cancer. We will estimate incidence and duration of oral HPV infections and associated factors. Novel viral (viral methylation, integration, variants), host (methylation), and behavioral (tobacco use, oral hygiene and health, sexual behavior,) factors will be evaluated in relation to oral HPV natural history. The proposed research is innovative, as it will be the first to prospectively address fundamental questions related to oral HPV natural history. Our study builds on an existing large data and biological specimen repository to efficiently address timely and significant questions identifying markers of infection that have utility for the design of future HPV-OPC screening/prevention interventions. Our transdisciplinary team of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, oncologists, and virologists has the experience and expertise to successfully implement the proposed study.
HPV causes approximately 70% of oropharyngeal cancers (OPC) in the US, and men are three times more likely to develop HPV-related OPC than women. Unlike cervical and anal cancers, no screening tests are available for OPC, nor have current HPV vaccines been proven to protect against these cancers. Therefore, in this application we propose to study oral HPV natural history in men to obtain data urgently needed to inform the development of future prevention/early detection strategies (e.g., cancer screening and HPV vaccination).