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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2019 Jun;12(6):375-382. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-19-0098. Epub 2019 Apr 19.

Increasing Incidence rates of Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Germany and Significance of Disease Burden Attributed to Human Papillomavirus.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
Department of Applied Tumor Biology, Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Clinical Cooperation Unit Applied Tumor Biology, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Hesse Cancer Registry, Hessisches Landesprüfungs- und Untersuchungsamt im Gesundheitswesen, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
Medical Statistics, Institute of Medical Informatics, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Giessen, Germany.
Contributed equally


Increasing incidences of head and neck cancers and rising proportions of these associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), especially in the oropharynx, have been reported in international studies. So far, the trends and contribution of HPV to the number of newly diagnosed cases of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC) in Germany are uncertain. We investigated HPV association and incidence rates in a cohort of consecutively included patients with OPSCC in Giessen 2000-2017, and compared our results with regional (Giessen and the federal state of Hesse), national (Germany), and international (United States) databases. Regional data show a significant increase in the overall incidence rates of oropharyngeal cancers and in the incidence of HPV-associated cancers of the subsites tonsils and oropharynx, whereas other oropharyngeal subsites show no significant change. Analysis of national databases shows a significant incidence increase in Germany and in the United States. The rise in incidence is predominantly attributable to male patients in the US population, whereas in Germany rising OPSCC incidence is more associated with females. There is a significant elevation of OPSCC incidence rates in Germany, which corresponds to the recognized incidence increase of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers based on experimental data from consecutively included patients of our cohort. Our investigation shows different patterns of this increase in Germany and in the United States, which demonstrates spatial heterogeneity and the need for population-based investigations regarding the role of HPV in oropharyngeal cancer.

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