Detection of oral human papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16) was associated with an approximately 22 times higher risk for developing oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a study published online ahead of print in JAMA Oncology has shown.1

Because there is limited data on the association between α-, β-, and γ-HPV types and the risk of head and neck SCC (HNSCC), researchers sought to prospectively examine association between α-, β-, and γ-HPV detection in the oral cavity and incident HNSCC.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 96 650 participants of the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Of those, 132 incident cases of HNSCC were identified during a mean follow-up of 3.9 years. A total of 396 participants were selected as controls.

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Results showed that HPV-16 detection in the oral cavity was associated with incident HNSCC (OR, 7.1; 95% CI: 2.2-22.6) and a positive association for oropharyngeal SCC (OR, 22.4: 95% CI, 1.8-276.7). In contrast, researchers did observe a positive association for oral cavity (OR, 4.5; 95% CI: 0.6-34.7) or laryngeal SCCs (OR, 0.11; 95% CI: 0.01-834.80).

In terms of the broader role HPVs play in HNSCC etiology, researchers found that detection of β1-HPV-5 type was associated with oropharyngeal (OR, 7.42; 95% CI: 0.98-56.82; P =.054), oral cavity (OR, 5.34; 95% CI: 1.51-18.80; P =.01), and laryngeal SCCs (OR, 2.71; 95% CI: 1.00-7.43; P =.05).

The study further demonstrated that γ11- and γ12-HPV types were associated with both oral cavity (OR, 7.47; 95% CI: 1.21-46.17; P .03; and OR, 6.71; 95% CI: 1.47-30.75; P =.01, respectively) and laryngeal SCCs (OR, 7.49; 95% CI, 1.10-51.04; P = .04 and OR, 5.31; 95% CI, 1.13-24.95; P =.03, respectively).


1. Agalliu I, Gapstur S, Chen Z, et al. Associations of oral α-, β-, and γ-human papillomavirus types with risk of incident head and neck cancer [published online ahead of print January 21, 2016]. JAMA Oncology. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.5504.