Human papillomavirus and oral and oropharyngeal carcinoma: The essentials

M. Yakin, B. Seo, H. Hussaini, A. Rich, K. Hunter

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    There is a global increase in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) in Australia and New Zealand. Risk factors for HPV-positive OPSCC are male gender, white race, age older than 40 but younger than 59 years old, having multiple lifetime sex partners, having oro-genital and oro-anal sex. High-risk HPV subtypes play a major role in the pathogenesis of OPSCC, however, they play a much lesser role in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Among the laboratory tests used to detect oncogenic HPV infection, polymerase chain reaction is a sensitive method but does not reflect the role of HPV in oncogenesis. While widely used, p16 immunohistochemistry is both a sensitive and a specific surrogate marker for oncogenic HPV infection in OPSCC, but not in OSCC. However, it is a useful prognostic marker in OPSCC. The current gold standard to accurately detect oncogenic HPV infection is E6/E7 mRNAin situ hybridization. Because both HPV-positive and p16-positive OPSCC have better short-term prognoses there is current debate and trials on treatment de-escalation in HPV-positive OPSCC. Dental practitioners can play an important role in early diagnosis of HPV-positive OPSCC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-18
    Number of pages8
    JournalAustralian Dental Journal
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Sept 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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