BackgroundPatients with human papillomavirus-positive (HPV+) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPC) have substantially better treatment response and overall survival (OS) than patients with HPV-negative disease. Treatment options for HPV+ OPC can involve either a primary radiotherapy (RT) approach (± concomitant chemotherapy) or a primary surgical approach (± adjuvant radiation) with transoral surgery (TOS). These two treatment paradigms have different spectrums of toxicity. The goals of this study are to assess the OS of two de-escalation approaches (primary radiotherapy and primary TOS) compared to historical control, and to compare survival, toxicity and quality of life (QOL) profiles between the two approaches.MethodsThis is a multicenter phase II study randomizing one hundred and forty patients with T1–2 N0–2 HPV+ OPC in a 1:1 ratio between de-escalated primary radiotherapy (60 Gy) ± concomitant chemotherapy and TOS ± de-escalated adjuvant radiotherapy (50–60 Gy based on risk factors). Patients will be stratified based on smoking status (< 10 vs. ≥ 10 pack-years). The primary endpoint is OS of each arm compared to historical control; we hypothesize that a 2-year OS of 85% or greater will be achieved. Secondary endpoints include progression free survival, QOL and toxicity.DiscussionThis study will provide an assessment of two de-escalation approaches to the treatment of HPV+ OPC on oncologic outcomes, QOL and toxicity. Results will inform the design of future definitive phase III trials.Trial RegistrationClinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT03210103. Date of registration: July 6, 2017, Current version: 1.3 on March 15, 2019.