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New Approach Promising for Diagnosis of HPV-Linked HNSCC

Noninvasive blood test used to detect circulating tumor HPV DNA for faster diagnosis of HPV-associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

MONDAY, Dec. 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Use of a noninvasive diagnostic approach for human papillomavirus-associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HPV+HNSCC) has high sensitivity and specificity and may shorten time to diagnosis, according to a study published online Dec. 2 in Clinical Cancer Research.

Giulia Siravegna, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study in 140 individuals (70 cases and 70 controls) to examine whether a noninvasive diagnostic approach for HPV+HNSCC can improve diagnostic accuracy, lower cost, and shorten the diagnostic interval compared to standard approaches. Blood was collected, processed for circulating tumor HPV DNA (ctHPVDNA), and analyzed with custom assays for HPV genotypes 16, 18, 33, 35, and 45.

The researchers found that for detecting HPV+HNSCC, the sensitivity and specificity of ctHPVDNA were 98.4 and 98.6 percent, respectively. For a composite noninvasive diagnostic using ctHPVDNA and imaging/physical exam, the sensitivity and specificity were 95.1 and 98.6 percent, respectively. Compared with standard of care, the diagnostic accuracy of this noninvasive approach was significantly higher (Youden index, 0.937 versus 0.707). Compared with standard clinical workup, the costs of the noninvasive diagnostic approach were 36 to 38 percent less and the median diagnostic interval was 26 days shorter.

“Our results show strong proof of principle and suggest that in the future, a fully integrated liquid biopsy approach to diagnose and monitor disease could be possible,” a coauthor said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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