Overweight and obesity may be a new challenge in the care of patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) and oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC), a new study published online ahead of print in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer has suggested.1

Because the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck cancer has been increasing and treatment regimens have been changing, researchers sought to evaluate whether treatment-related weight changes in patients with head and neck cancer has also been evolving.

For the retrospective cohort study, researchers analyzed data on pre- and posttreatment body weight, demographics, medical history, and treatments from 290 patients with OPSCC or OCSCC who received initial definitive treatment at the University of Pennsylvania.

Results showed over 70% of patients with OPSCC and OCSCC were overweight or obese at all pre- and posttreatment assessments. Researchers found that patients with OPSCC had a 6.63-kg higher average weight than patients with OCSCC at all assessments (P=.002).

After adjusting for potential confounding factors, the study demonstrated that patients who underwent a primary operation had significantly more weight gain from pretreatment to posttreatment follow-up compared with those who underwent primary radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy (P=.041).

Further study is needed to evaluate whether exercise and nutritional interventions can improve their survivorship,” the authors conclude.


1. Zhang Z, Brown JC, O’Malley BW, et al. Post-treatment weight change in oral cavity and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma [published online ahead of print December 1, 2015]. Supp Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-015-3029-6.