Human papillomavirus prevalence and prognostic implication in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas




Human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is associated with favorable survival. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and prognostic significance of the HPV infection through both the p16 expression status and the oncogenic HPV DNA viral load.


A retrospective chart review was conducted on all patients treated for oropharyngeal SCC between January 2007 and June 2009. P16 expression status by immunohistochemistry and HPV DNA viral load by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were evaluated on routine pretreatment tumor samples.


One hundred thirty-three patients (94 men and 39 women) were included in the study. Mean age was 59 years. One hundred twenty-two lesions (92%) were localized to lymphoid areas. Sixty-seven patients (50%) were p16+, and 87 patients (65%) harbored HPV DNA. The p16+/HPV DNA+ profile (48%) was associated with the most favorable prognosis. HPV16 was responsible for the majority of the infections (89%).


HPV is common among oropharyngeal SCC in France, and acts as an independent prognostic factor. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 36: 257–265, 2014