Implementation of HPV-specific testing in addition to assessment of p16 expression in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma

Impact: Health Impact, Quality of Life Impact

Description of impact

This research has influenced recommendations from the Royal College of Pathologists in the UK and resulted in altered clinical practice nationally and internationally, in that confirmation of HPV status using a secondary molecular test is required following assessment of positive p16 immunohistochemistry.

Who is affected

These findings have significant implications for patient stratification of oropharyngeal cancers, as how HPV status is determined could affect patient management.


It is now widely recognised that patient outcomes are significantly improved in HPV-related cancers compared to HPV-negative; this has led to the introduction of prognostic and predictive stratification of oropharyngeal cancers by HPV status. Researchers from Queen's University Belfast found that discrepancies between direct and indirect molecular tests to determine HPV status in oropharyngeal cancers identified a poor prognosis subtype of oropharyngeal cancers who could be misclassified as having HPV related disease if only surrogate test's such as p16 immunohistochemistry was used.
Impact statusOngoing
Category of impactHealth Impact, Quality of Life Impact
Impact levelAdoption