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Head Neck Pathol. 2009 Mar;3(1):78-81. doi: 10.1007/s12105-009-0100-y. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

The changing face of head and neck cancer in the 21st century: the impact of HPV on the epidemiology and pathology of oral cancer.

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  • Department of Pathology and Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, The Weinberg Bldg, Room 2242, 401 N, Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA. wwestra@jhmi.edu


The longstanding notion that head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a uniform disease process is changing. Divergence in epidemiologic trends among HNSCCs arising in different anatomic subsites has introduced a view that HNSCC is a heterogeneous group. Analysis of molecular genetic changes discloses not just individual tumor differences, but also consistent large-scale differences that permit the recognition of important tumor subtypes. One recently recognized subtype is the human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal carcinoma. HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer now dominates the head and neck oncology landscape, and its escalating incidence is impacting on diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic practices.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Human papillomavirus; In situ hybridization; Oral cancer

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