The changing face of head and neck cancer: are patients with human papillomavirus-positive disease at greater nutritional risk? A systematic review

Anna Edwards, Teresa Brown, Brett G.M. Hughes, Judy Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now the primary cause of oropharyngeal head and neck cancer (OPC) worldwide; yet limited research has examined the effect of HPV-positive status (OPC+) on nutrition outcomes. This study aims to determine the impact of HPV status on nutritional outcomes for adult patients with OPC undergoing any treatment modality. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted up to and including July 2021 of PubMed, Embase, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and Web of Science to identify studies conducted in adults (>18 years) with known OPC reporting on any outcome(s) related to nutrition, according to HPV status (OPC+ versus OPC−). Bias was assessed using QUIPS tool, with certainty of evidence assessed using GRADE system. Results: Six studies (total n = 635) all at moderate-high risk of bias were included. Three studies reported on weight change (n = 255), three feeding tube dependency (n = 380), three feeding tube timing of placement (prophylactic or reactive) and/or utilisation (n = 255), two nutritional (energy and/or protein) intake (n = 230), and one nutritional status (n = 83). Patients with OPC+ may experience greater weight loss, may have higher utilisation of reactive feeding tubes (both GRADE low certainty, downgraded due to serious bias and imprecision), and may have lower feeding tube dependency rates (GRADE low certainty, downgraded due to serious bias and inconsistency) versus OPC−. It is uncertain whether nutritional intake and nutritional status differed between populations (GRADE very low certainty, downgraded due to serious bias and very serious imprecision). Conclusion: Further, high-quality research is needed to understand optimal nutritional care practices for patients with OPC + to achieve positive health outcomes into survivorship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7191–7204
Number of pages14
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2022


  • Human papillomavirus
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition support
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Weight loss

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