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Keywords:

  • nasopharyngeal carcinoma;
  • human papillomavirus;
  • Epstein-Barr virus;
  • white North Americans

Abstract

Background

Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been detected in keratinizing nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPCs); however, the relationship between HPV and Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) among whites with nonkeratinizing NPCs remains unclear. The HPV, p16, and EBV status was examined in current University of Michigan patients with NPC.

Methods

From 2003 to 2007, 89 patients, 84 with oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) and 5 with NPC, were enrolled in an organ-sparing trial. Biopsy tissues from all 89 patients were evaluated for HPV and p16 expression. A separate HPV analysis of the 84 OPC patients is in progress. Among the patients with NPC, tumor tissue was also analyzed for EBV-encoded RNA (EBER).

Results

Five of 89 patients (5.6%) had NPC, all with nonkeratinizing histology. The 4 white patients with NPC were HPV(+) (subtype-16, subtype-18 [2 patients], and subtype-59)/p16(+)/EBER(-). One Asian patient with NPC had an HPV(-)/p16(-)/EBER(+) NPC tumor that developed distant metastases.

Conclusion

We postulate that HPV may be the etiologic factor in some EBV-negative, nonkeratinizing NPCs among whites. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2010