University of Michigan

Follow-up for HPV-related Oropharynx cancer Concentrated on Unequal Symptom change (FOCUS)


In partnership with Livestrong, a novel three-year pilot to decrease burdens on survivors of head and neck cancer has been initiated in the University of Michigan Departments of Otolaryngology and Radiation Oncology. This initiative aims to decrease the number of costly visits required after completion of treatment for HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers and instead monitors patients remotely through monthly survivorship-focused electronic surveys. This pilot, initiated during the COVID pandemic, seeks to enroll 100 patients over one year, and follow them for two years. Researchers hope to show that the electronic surveys catch cancer recurrences with no delays to cancer care.

The potential benefits to patients with further investigation of this approach cannot be understated; this will allow patients to remotely connect with providers, avoid costly trips to specialized cancer doctors, and decrease discomfort and anxiety. The ability to ask patients detailed questions about their quality of life will ensure that providers are able to tailor post-treatment care to the specific issues that each patient is experiencing and will allow better characterization of the long-term effects of treatment.

This partnership with Livestrong will enable the pursuit of a truly novel approach to post-treatment care, with patient quality of life at the center of this approach. As centers around the nation continue to seek the best ways to follow patients with HPV-related cancers, this approach pioneered by the University of Michigan with Livestrong places an emphasis on quality of life as a means to not only detect cancer recurrences but to ensure that patients receive the best survivorship care possible.