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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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  • 1Department of Pathology and Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, The Weinberg Bldg, Room 2242, 401 N, Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


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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