Patient experience and anxiety during and after treatment for an HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer

Gypsyamber D'Souza, Yuehan Zhang, Samantha Merritt, Dorothy Gold, Hilary A. Robbins, Victoria Buckman, Jennifer Gerber, David W. Eisele, Patrick Ha, Joseph Califano, Carole Fakhry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objectives Diagnosis with an HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer includes unique social issues. However, it is unknown how common these psychosocial issues are for patients and whether they continue after treatment. Materials and methods Patients with pathologically confirmed HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC, n = 48) were recruited from two medical centers. Participants completed a computer assisted self interview that explored their psychosocial experiences during and after treatment. We examined responses overall and by age. Results The majority of participants with confirmed HPV-OPC, reported being told that HPV could have (90%) or did cause (77%) their malignancy, but only 52% believed that HPV was the main cause of their OPC. Participants over 65 years were less likely than younger participants to report that their doctors told them their tumor was HPV-positive (50% vs 84%, p = 0.03). Anxiety that their tumor was HPV-related was a major issue among participants when first diagnosed (93%). However, only 17% still reported anxiety after treatment was complete. While many patients reported that providers discussed the emotional effects of diagnosis and treatment adequately (58%), almost half reported discussing these emotional effects inadequately (24%), or not at all (18%). Further, 18% reported that their families still wondered about some questions that they had never asked. Conclusion After treatment, some HPV-OPC patients remain concerned about HPV and have unanswered questions about HPV. Older patients had lower awareness of the role of HPV in their cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Anxiety
  • HPV
  • OPC
  • Patient experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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