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TCGA explores head and neck cancers, HPV
April 2015
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BETHESDA, Md.—Scientists from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network genomically analyzed 279 head and neck squamous cell carcinomas from untreated patients, with approximately 80 percent of the samples from smokers, to examine the effects of smoking and nature of cancers resulting from human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The majority were oral cavity cancers (61 percent) and larynx cancers (26 percent). Only 25 percent of head and neck cancers are linked to HPV infections, but the researchers found that many patients with HPV-associated tumors present with FGFR3 gene alterations and PIK3CA gene mutations, which are found in a broader range of mutations in smoking-related tumors. Extra copies of the FADD and BIRC2 genes, or mutations or absence of the CASP8 gene in smoking-related cancers, could play a role in treatment resistance. In HPV-related cancers, the absence of TRAF3 or extra copies of the E2F1 protein could also increase resistance.

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