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Oropharyngeal Cancer Epidemic and Human Papillomavirus

Authors
Publisher
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Publication Date
Volume
16
Issue
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3201/eid1611.100452
Keywords
  • Synopsis

Abstract

A growing body of research shows that human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common and increasing cause of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Thus, the International Agency for Research against Cancer has acknowledged HPV as a risk factor for OSCC, in addition to smoking and alcohol consumption. Recently, in Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States, and Sweden, incidence of OSCC has increased, and an increase in the proportion of HPV-positive tumors was noted. On the basis of these data and reports indicating that patients with HPV-positive cancer have their first sexual experience at a young age and have multiple partners, we postulate that increased incidence of OSCC in the United States and some countries in northern Europe is because of a new, primarily sexually transmitted HPV epidemic. We also suggest that individualized treatment modalities and preventive vaccination should be further explored.

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