for people ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California and other locations
study started
completion around



This randomized phase II trial studies how well transoral surgery followed by low-dose or standard-dose radiation therapy works in treating patients with human papilloma virus (HPV) positive stage III-IVA oropharyngeal cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill tumor cells. Drugs used in chemotherapy work in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Giving radiation therapy with chemotherapy may kill any tumor cells that remain after surgery. It is not yet known how much extra treatment needs to be given after surgery.

Official Title

Phase II Randomized Trial of Transoral Surgical Resection Followed by Low-Dose or Standard-Dose IMRT in Resectable p16+ Locally Advanced Oropharynx Cancer



  1. Accrual, risk distribution, and surgical quality will be used to determine the feasibility of a prospective multi-institutional study of transoral surgery for HPV positive (+) oropharynx cancer followed by risk-adjusted adjuvant therapy.

II. To assess the oncologic efficacy following transoral resection and adjuvant therapy in patients determined to be at "intermediate risk" after surgical excision, the 2-year progression free survival (PFS) rate will be examined.


  1. To estimate the patient distribution with various histologic risk features. II. To assess and compare early and late toxicities associated with transoral surgery (TOS) and the different doses of adjuvant postoperative radiotherapy (PORT).

III. To evaluate swallowing function before and after TOS and risk-adjusted adjuvant therapy.

IV. To evaluate quality of life (QOL), swallowing perception and performance, voice outcomes, and head and neck symptoms.


  1. To correlate tumor TP53 mutation and other associated mutation profile with pathologic findings, with PFS and other outcome parameters in patients with resectable HPV-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) after the above treatments.

II. To evaluate radiation resistance markers, including excision repair cross complementing 1 (ERCC1) single nucleotide polymorphism and protein expression, and correlate them with treatment efficacy.

III. To investigate the usefulness of biomarkers in predicting progression-free survival and biomarkers, including tumor ERCC1, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), plasma cytokine/chemokines, cellular immunity to HPV, and oral HPV deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

OUTLINE: All patients undergo transoral surgery (TOS) in Step 1.

ARM S: Patients undergo transoral resection of the oropharyngeal tumor.

Then patients are classified by risk status (low risk, intermediate risk, or high risk) in Step 2 and assigned to the appropriate treatment group. Patients classified as intermediate risk are randomized to arms B or C.

ARM A (low risk; observation): Patients receive observation.

ARM B (intermediate risk): Patients undergo low-dose (50Gy) intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) once daily (QD) over 25 fractions.

ARM C (intermediate risk): Patients undergo standard-dose (60Gy) IMRT QD over 30 fractions.

ARM D (high risk): Patients receive IMRT at 66 Gy QD for 33 fractions. Patients also receive cisplatin intravenously (IV) over 60 minutes on days 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 36, and 43 during radiation therapy.

After completion of study treatment, patients are followed up every 3 months for 2 years and then every 6 months for 3 year.


Human Papilloma Virus Infection, Stage III Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oropharynx, Stage IVA Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oropharynx, Stage IVB Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oropharynx, oropharynx cancer, HPV+, Papillomavirus Infections, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Oropharyngeal Neoplasms, Papilloma, Cisplatin, Carboplatin, Transoral surgery, intensity-modulated radiation therapy


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18 years and up

Registration to Surgery (Arm S)

  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 or 1
  • Patients must have newly diagnosed, histologically or cytologically confirmed squamous cell carcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma of the oropharynx; patients must have been determined to have resectable oropharyngeal disease; patients with primary tumor or nodal metastasis fixed to the carotid artery, skull base or cervical spine are not eligible
  • Patients must have American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM tumor stage III, IV a, or IV b (with no evidence of distant metastases) as determined by imaging studies (performed < 30 days prior to pre-registration) and complete head and neck exam; the following imaging is required: computed tomography (CT) scan with IV contrast or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Patients must have biopsy-proven p16+ oropharynx cancer; the histologic evidence of invasive squamous cell carcinoma may have been obtained from the primary tumor or metastatic lymph node. It is required that patients have a positive p16 IHC (as surrogate for HPV) status from either the primary tumor or metastatic lymph node.
  • Carcinoma of the oropharynx associated with HPV as determined by p16 protein expression using immunohistochemistry (IHC) performed by a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) approved laboratory; using p16 antibody obtained from Roche mtm laboratories AG (CINtec, clone E6H4) is recommended
  • Patients with a history of a curatively treated malignancy must be disease-free for at least two years except for carcinoma in situ of cervix and/or non-melanomatous skin cancer
  • Patients with the following within the last 6 months prior to pre-registration must be evaluated by a cardiologist and/or neurologist prior to entry into the study
  • Absolute neutrophil count >= 1,500/mm3
  • Platelets >= 100,000/mm3
  • Total bilirubin =< the upper limit of normal (ULN)
  • Calculated creatinine clearance must be > 60 ml/min using the Cockcroft-Gault formula

Registration/Randomization to Step2 - Arms A, B, C and D

  • Histopathologic assessment of surgical pathology must include examination for perineural invasion (PNI) and lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and reported as absent or present; the absence or presence of extracapsular extension (ECE) requires gross and microscopic assessment and is defined to be:
    • Absent (negative or nodal metastasis with smooth/rounded leading edge confined to thickened capsule/pseudocapsule),
    • Present - minimal (tumor extends =< 1 mm beyond the lymph node capsule), or
    • Present - extensive (gross, tumor extends > 1 mm beyond the lymph node capsule (includes soft tissue metastasis)
  • Patient must be stratified/classified into one of the following risk categories (the highest risk feature assessed pathologically will determine the patient's category/treatment arm assignment):
    • Low Risk: T1-T2, N0-N1 AND clear (≥ 3mm) margins, AND no ECE or PNI/LVI
    • High Risk: Any of the following features: one or more positive margin(s) with any T stage, OR "Extensive" (> 1mm) ECE, OR ≥ 5 metastatic lymph nodes (regardless of primary tumor margin status)
    • Intermediate Risk: Any of the following features: one or more "close" (< 3mm) margin(s), OR "Minimal" (≤ 1mm) ECE, OR N2a (1 or more lymph node > 3cm in diameter), OR N2b (2-4 lymph nodes positive, any diameter ≤ 6cm), OR with perineural invasion or lymphovascular invasion.
    • Unknown Risk: Patients found to have N2C or N3 disease on final pathologic analysis are at unknown risk for recurrence, but are not candidates for deintensified adjuvant therapy in this trial. These patients will be treated on Arm C.
    • Patients not categorized into the appropriate risk category will be considered ineligible for the study
  • Patient must be registered/randomized to Step 2 within a maximum of 7 weeks following surgery
  • Women of childbearing potential and sexually active males are strongly advised to use an accepted and effective method of contraception

You CAN'T join if...

Registration to Surgery (Arm S)

  • Prior radiation above the clavicles
  • Evidence of extensive or "matted/fixed" pathologic adenopathy on preoperative imaging
  • Women must not be pregnant or breast-feeding due to the teratogenicity of chemotherapy; all females of childbearing potential must have a blood test or urine study within 2 weeks prior to registration to rule out pregnancy; a female of childbearing potential is any woman, regardless of sexual orientation or whether they have undergone tubal ligation, who meets the following criteria: has not undergone a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy; or has not been naturally postmenopausal for at least 24 consecutive months (i.e., has had menses at any time in the preceding 24 consecutive months)
  • Any intercurrent illness likely to interfere with protocol therapy or prevent surgical resection
  • Uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled infection despite antibiotics or uncontrolled hypertension within 30 days prior to pre-registration


  • UCSF Medical Center-Mount Zion
    San Francisco California 94115 United States
  • Kaiser Permanente Oakland-Broadway
    Oakland California 94611 United States
  • Stanford Cancer Institute
    Palo Alto California 94304 United States


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group
Phase 2 research study
Study Type
About 519 people participating
Last Updated