Affordable Access

Unlocking the potential of saliva-based test to detect HPV-16-driven oropharyngeal cancer

  • Tang, Kai Dun
  • Baeten, Kurt
  • Kenny, Liz
  • Frazer, Ian H.
  • Scheper, Gert
  • Punyadeera, Chamindie
Publication Date
Apr 03, 2019
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is rising in high-income countries, including Australia. Increasing evidence suggests that accurate HPV testing is pivotal for clinical decision making and treatment planning in these patients. Recently, the eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer/Union for International Cancer Control (AJCC/UICC) tumor–node–metastasis (TNM) staging system for OPC (based on the p16INK4a (p16) status) was proposed and has been implemented. However, the applicability of this new staging system is still far from clear. In our study, n = 127 OPC patients from Queensland, Australia were recruited, and the tumor p16 expression in these patients was examined using immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. HPV-16 genotyping, viral load, and physical status (episomal versus integrated) in the saliva samples of OPC patients were determined using the qPCR method. A good inter-rater agreement (k = 0.612) was found between tumor p16 expression and oral HPV-16 infection in OPC. Importantly, according to the eighth edition staging system, HPV-16 DNA viral load (>10 copies/50 ng) was significantly associated with the advanced stages of OPC. In concordance with previous studies, a mixed HPV-16 form (partially or fully integrated) was predominately found in OPC patients. Taken together, our data support HPV-16 detection in saliva as a screening biomarker to identify people within the community who are at risk of developing OPC.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times