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Keywords:

  • human papillomavirus;
  • oral cancer;
  • polymerase chain reaction

Evidence from several laboratories suggests that HPV plays a role in the etiology of squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity. A rnultifactorial risk factor profile for the development of oral cancer may include HPV in addition to well-established risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use. The prevalence of oral carcinomas repotted to be associated with HPV has varied widely due to differences in the sensitivity of the assay used for HPV detection. The aims of this study were: (1) to ascertain the prevalence of HPV DNA in oral squamous cell carcinomas using the most sensitive technique available, the polymerase chain reaction; (2) to determine the type of HPV in the tumors; and 3) to correlate the virologic data with other risk factor data obtained from patients’ records. Fourteen (78%) of 18 primary tumors, 6 (67%) of 9 normal epithelial tissues from the patients and 5 (100%) of 5 neck metastases were HPV DNA-positive. Of the 14 HPV DNA-positive primary tumors, specific typing revealed HPV 16 in 2, HPV 18 in 2, HPV 16 and IS in 5, HPV 6/11, 16 and 18 in 4, and HPV 6/11 in 1. HPV types in the normal or metaslatic tissue were usually the same as those in the respective primary tumor. There was no significant association between HPV presence and any of 12 factors or patient characteristics studied.