Human Papillomavirus in Head and Neck Cancer

Tambas M., Altun M., Tural D.

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS - RESEARCH IN A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, pp.255-288, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Throughout the last three decades, there has been a notable shift in the epidemiology of head and neck cancer (HNC) worldwide. A rapidly spreading subtype of HNCs is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV-related cancers are now considered to constitute 30-65% of all HNC cases and 50-80% of oropharyngeal cancers. HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers have a unique demographic profile and tumor biology characteristics. HPV-associated patients predominantly consist of younger men with better performance status and fewer comorbid diseases. They have better dentition, higher numbers of oral sex partners, and use less amount of tobacco or alcohol, higher amount of marijuana compared with HPV-negative patients. In addition, patients with HPV-positive tumors have a 60-80% reduced mortality rates, a finding that was confirmed by multiple trials and led to several ongoing deintensification studies. This chapter describes epidemiologic features of HPV-positive HNC, risk factors for HPV infection and HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer, HPV detection methods, mechanisms of carcinogenesis and improved treatment response, and the impact of HPV status on clinical outcome as well as deintensification approaches and potential of vaccination.