Purpose: Incidence of head and neck cancer (HNC) due to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been increasing. Treatment regimens have evolved. These changes might result in alterations of assumed treatment-related weight changes for HNC patients. We aimed to compare the trajectory of pre- to post-treatment weight changes of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) versus oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) patients and to compare weight changes between patients with primary surgery ± adjuvant therapy to patients with primary radiation and/or chemotherapy. Methods: This retrospective cohort study examined adult OPSCC and OCSCC patients with initial definitive treatment at the University of Pennsylvania from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010. Patient demographics, medical history, treatments, and pre- and post-treatment body weight data were collected from electronic medical records. Mixed-effects modeling was performed. Results: Among 354 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 290 (82 %) survivors were available for inclusion by 24-month follow-up. More than 70 % OPSCC and OCSCC patients were overweight or obese at all pre- and post-treatment time points. The average weight among OPSCC patients was 6.63 kg higher than OCSCC patients at all time points (mean = 6.63, 95 % confidence interval (CI), 2.46–10.79, p = 0.002). After adjusting for potential confounders, patients with primary surgery had significantly more weight gain from pre-treatment to 12–18 month post-treatment follow-up as compared to patients with primary radiation and/or chemotherapy (adjusted mean = 4.01, 95 % CI, 0.16–7.87, p = 0.041). Conclusion: Overweight and obesity may be a new challenge in OPSCC and OCSCC patient care. Further study is needed to evaluate whether exercise and nutritional interventions can improve their survivorship.
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