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Cir Cir. 2007 May-Jun;75(3):151-5.

[Human papillomavirus: association with head and neck cancer].

[Article in Spanish]

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Departamento de Tumores de Cabeza y Cuello, Hospital de Oncología, Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, 06725 México, D.F., Mexico.



Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 6th most common cancer worldwide. In 2005, 400,000 cases of HNSCC were diagnosed worldwide. The most frequently affected site is the oral cavity. Alcohol/tobacco consumption is the most important risk factor for this neoplasia; nevertheless, since 1983 it has been suggested that human papilloma viruses (HPV) have a role in HNSCC, mainly in the oropharynx (level 1 evidence). We undertook this study to determine HPV prevalence and types in patients with HNSCC.


Presence of HPV was determined by polymerase chain reaction and staged by in situ hybridization. We analyzed stage, tumor site of origin, sexual practices, and alcohol/tobacco consumption. Fisher's exact test and Student's t-test were used for statistical analysis. We performed a multiple regression analysis for adjustment of variables.


There were 118 patients were HPV positive and oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancer patients were the most frequently affected (55% and 50%, respectively). HPV-16 was most frequently isolated (70%). Laryngeal cancer patients suffered the highest ratio of HPV-16 infection (68.7%). Factors associated with HPV (univariate analysis) were age >50 years, tobacco/alcohol consumption and male gender. In multivariate analysis, none of the variables showed importance (p >0.5); HPV infection was more frequent in patients with history of alcohol/tobacco consumption (p = 0.6).


There was HPV presence in 42% of HNSCC patients, HPV-16 in 70%, with the oropharynx and larynx being the most affected sites. No variables are associated with the virus presence. HPV is a co-factor in HNSCC etiology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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