Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) has excellent control rates compared to nonvirally associated OPSCC. Multiple trials are actively testing whether de-escalation of treatment intensity for these patients can maintain oncologic equipoise while reducing treatment-related toxicity. We have developed OP-TIL, a biomarker that characterizes the spatial interplay between tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and surrounding cells in histology images. Herein, we sought to test whether OP-TIL can segregate stage I HPV-associated OPSCC patients into low-risk and high-risk groups and aid in patient selection for de-escalation clinical trials. Methods: Association between OP-TIL and patient outcome was explored on whole slide hematoxylin and eosin images from 439 stage I HPV-associated OPSCC patients across 6 institutional cohorts. One institutional cohort (n = 94) was used to identify the most prognostic features and train a Cox regression model to predict risk of recurrence and death. Survival analysis was used to validate the algorithm as a biomarker of recurrence or death in the remaining 5 cohorts (n = 345). All statistical tests were 2-sided. Results: OP-TIL separated stage I HPV-associated OPSCC patients with 30 or less pack-year smoking history into low-risk (2-year disease-free survival [DFS] = 94.2%; 5-year DFS = 88.4%) and high-risk (2-year DFS = 82.5%; 5-year DFS = 74.2%) groups (hazard ratio = 2.56, 95% confidence interval = 1.52 to 4.32; P <. 001), even after adjusting for age, smoking status, T and N classification, and treatment modality on multivariate analysis for DFS (hazard ratio = 2.27, 95% confidence interval = 1.32 to 3.94; P =. 003). Conclusions: OP-TIL can identify stage I HPV-associated OPSCC patients likely to be poor candidates for treatment de-escalation. Following validation on previously completed multi-institutional clinical trials, OP-TIL has the potential to be a biomarker, beyond clinical stage and HPV status, that can be used clinically to optimize patient selection for de-escalation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research