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Cancer Causes Control. 2014 Apr;25(4):461-71. doi: 10.1007/s10552-014-0348-8. Epub 2014 Jan 29.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 and the prognosis of head and neck cancer in a geographical region with a low prevalence of HPV infection.

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  • 1Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo, 715, São Paulo, CEP 01246-904, Brazil, rossana@usp.br.



The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) survival in regions with low HPV prevalence is not yet clear. We evaluated the HPV16 infection on survival of HNSCC Brazilian patient series.


This cohort comprised 1,093 HNSCC cases recruited from 1998 to 2008 in four Brazilian cities and followed up until June 2009. HPV16 antibodies were analyzed by multiplex Luminex assay. In a subset of 398 fresh frozen or paraffin blocks of HNSCC specimens, we analyzed for HPV16 DNA by L1 generic primer polymerase chain reaction. HNSCC survival according to HPV16 antibodies was evaluated through Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression.


Prevalence of HPV16 E6 and E6/E7 antibodies was higher in oropharyngeal cancer than in other head and neck tumor sites. HPV16 DNA positive in tumor tissue was also higher in the oropharynx. Seropositivity for HPV16 E6 antibodies was correlated with improved HNSCC survival and oropharyngeal cancer. The presence of HPV16 E6/E7 antibodies was correlated with improved HNSCC survival and oropharyngeal cancer survival. The death risk of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma patients HPV16 E6/E7 antibodies positive was 78 % lower than to those who test negative.


Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is less aggressive in the HPV16 E6/E7 positive serology patients. HPV16 E6/E7 antibody is a clinically sensible surrogate prognostic marker of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

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