The role of HPV infection in oropharyngeal cancer

Vol. 60 No. 3, 2019


Vlad Andrei Budu, Tatiana Decuseara, Nicolae Constantin Balica, Carmen Aurelia Mogoanta, Luminita Mihaela Radulescu, Magdalena Chirila, Alma Aurelia Maniu, Diana Maria Mistra, Gabriela Cornelia Musat, Ioana Cristina Opriscan, Madalina Gabriela Georgescu

Background: Human papilloma virus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) has been recognized as a distinct disease entity associated with oral HPV infection with high-risk serotypes, mainly among white man at younger age. Lifetime number of oral sex partners of HPV-positive OPSCC patients is the strongest risk factor associated. HPV type 16 is now established as oncogenic and it is the main cause (over the 80%) of this type of OPSCC, followed by HPV 18 (3%). Nowadays, it is reported a dramatic rising of HPV-positive OPSCC, mainly in developed countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Estonia, France, Japan, United States (US) and United Kingdom. At present, the yearly number of new incidence OPSCC cases given to HPV worldwide has been estimated of 29 000 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). If incidence trends continue, the annual number of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers is expected to overcome the annual number of cervical cancers by the year 2020, in the US. Aim: The aim of this paper is to review the recent data about several topics including risk factors of HPV-positive OPSCCs, guidelines in diagnostic evaluation, treatment, prognosis and prevention strategies, through prophylactic HPV vaccine on both sexes. Nowadays, HPV detection is a clinical standard of care for oropharyngeal malignancy by reporting tumors as HPV positive or p16 positive.

Corresponding author: Carmen Aurelia Mogoanta, Senior Lecturer, MD, PhD; e-mail:; Gabriela Cornelia Musat, Senior Lecturer, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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