What is the prognosis (chance of recovery) for people with oropharyngeal cancers?

The prognosis for people with oropharyngeal cancer depends on the health of the person, the HPV status of the tumor, and the stage of the disease. Tumors that are HPV-positive have a dramatically improved cure rate, compared to tumors that are HPV-negative. It is important for people with oral cancer or oropharyngeal cancer to have follow-up exams for the rest of their lives as cancer can occur in nearby areas. In addition, it is important to eliminate risk factors like smoking and drinking, which increase the risk for second cancers, or recurrent cancer.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/29/2013.


  • National Cancer Institute 2012: Oropharyngeal cancer PDQ. Accessed January 15, 2013.
  • Kim ES, Gunn GB, William Jr. WN, Kies MS. Chapter 16. Head and Neck Cancer. In: Kantarjian HM, Wolff RA, Koller CA, eds. The MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2011.

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