• Human papillomavirus;
  • polymerase chain reaction;
  • typing;
  • oral cavity;
  • carcinoma;
  • Level of Evidence: 4



The prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in a clinical series of 162 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) was studied. Furthermore, we analyzed the correlation between the immunohistochemical expression of p16, p53, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and HPV status to predict survival in OSCC patients.

Study Design:

Retrospective study.


Paraffin-embedded samples from OSCC patients (n = 162) were evaluated for the presence of HPV DNA using both GP5+/GP6+ consensus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and type-specific E6/E7 PCR to detect HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66, 67, and 68. Immunohistochemical staining for p16, p53, and EGFR was also performed.


The type-specific E6/E7 PCR demonstrated that 65 of the 147 OSCC patients (44%) presented with high-risk (hr) HPV types and that 38 of the 147 OSCC patients (26%) presented with low-risk (lr) HPV types. Comparable p53 and EGFR expression levels were observed in the hr HPV+ group (41.5% p53+, 92% EGFR+) and the lr HPV+ group (57% p53+, 92% EGFR+). Conversely, a slight increase in the proportion of p16+ tumors was observed in the hr HPV+ group (65%) compared with the lr HPV+ group (44%). In regard to patient outcome, the presence of HPV was correlated with a worse prognosis (P = .007).


A high prevalence of hr and lr HPV infections was detected in the OSCC patients included in the study. Moreover, hr HPV positivity was correlated with a decreased 5-year disease-free survival rate compared with HPV− and lr HPV+.