June 16, 2021

Blood Test to Check for HPV+ Throat Cancer


There is now a blood test called NavDx that is commercially available that can evaluate for the presence of throat cancer due to HPV. HPV throat cancer has become one of the most common causes of throat cancer in young adults surpassing even smoking and alcohol. For years, there have been blood biomarkers for other types of cancer including breast cancer and prostate cancer, but not for throat cancer until now. 

Keep in mind that NavDx can only detect for the presence of HPV initiated throat cancer. Not throat cancer due to non-HPV causes. 

(Click to see pictures of oral/throat cancer.)

Furthermore, NavDx has been validated for evaluating HPV throat cancer after initial diagnosis prior to treatment and for surveillance for recurrence after treatment with 100% negative predictive value and 94% positive predictive value. NavDx has been clinically proven to help identify relapse of head and neck cancer months before CT scans with 100% sensitivity. NavDx monitoring is suggested every 3-6 months during the first few years after cancer treatment.

Studies are currently ongoing to evaluate whether this test can be useful as a screening tool (when throat cancer has not been diagnosed yet).

Most insurances do cover this test (but not for screening purposes at this time).

Self-pay cost for this blood test is currently $1800 (as of 6/16/21) though the company states that it can provide financial assistance.

This test is obtained by a single vial of blood collected into a red top tube and sent to Naveris, a biotech firm that specializes in analyzing cancer-associated DNA in blood plasma. The company supplies a kit in order to obtain this test.


References:

Plasma Circulating Tumor HPV DNA for the Surveillance of Cancer Recurrence in HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 38, no. 10 (April 01, 2020) 1050-1058.

Rapid Clearance Profile of Plasma Circulating Tumor HPV Type 16 DNA during Chemoradiotherapy Correlates with Disease Control in HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer. Clin Cancer Res August 1 2019 (25) (15) 4682-4690; DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-0211
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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