One of the major concerns in oncology lies in the ability to detect recurrences at their earliest stage to increase the likelihood of cure following second line, or salvage, therapy. Although human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven oropharyngeal cancers have a good prognosis, 20-25% of patients will recur within 5 years of treatment and a significant portion will die from their disease. In recent years, great effort has been put toward evaluating the potential clinical utility of HPV-related biomarkers for early diagnosis of recurrent disease. Indeed, following completion of treatment, detection of HPV-DNA in oral rinses or blood and serologic assays against HPV oncoproteins could be helpful to track residual disease or recurrence. Several recent studies have reported promising findings, thus potentially paving the way for the use of biomarkers in the management of HPV-OPC. In this review, we evaluate and discuss the current knowledge on this topic and provide some directions for future research.
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