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Laryngoscope. 2013 Nov;123(11):E30-7. doi: 10.1002/lary.24243. Epub 2013 Jul 9.

Trends of human papillomavirus-related head and neck cancers in Korea: national cancer registry data.

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Molecular Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Research Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Republic of South Korea; Cancer Registration and Statistics Branch, Division of Cancer Registration and Surveillance, Research Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Republic of South Korea.



The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck cancers (HNCs) is increasing sharply worldwide, while their HPV-negative counterparts are showing a decreased frequency. However, epidemiologic data related to these changes are sparse in Korea, which is rapidly adopting more westernized lifestyles.


Data from the Korea Central Cancer Registry, a nationwide population-based cancer registry, from 1999 to 2009 were retrieved.


Age-standardized rates (ASRs), their annual percent changes (APC) and male-to-female incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were analyzed and compared between HPV-related and HPV-unrelated primary sites.


HPV-related sites (oropharynx) had increased significantly over the period 1999 to 2009 (APC = 2.35%, P = 0.017), particularly in young men (30-59 years, APC = 2.65%, P = 0.031), whereas HPV-unrelated sites such as larynx and hypopharynx decreased markedly in both sexes. Interestingly, tongue cancer was found to have increased gradually (APC = 2.35%, P = 0.003) in both sexes. The male-to-female IRRs and the median age of occurrence remained stable.


Although the cultural and ethnic background differs from the United States, cancers of HPV-related sites are increasing in Korea, whereas cancers of HPV-unrelated sites are decreasing, which is similar to the trends observed in the United States. Greater public awareness in Korea of HPV-related HNCs is therefore warranted.


Head and neck neoplasms; Korea; cancer registry; human papillomavirus; incidence; oral cancer; oropharyngeal neoplasms; smoking

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