Human papillomavirus in cervical and head-and-neck cancer

Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2008 Jan;5(1):24-31. doi: 10.1038/ncponc0984.


Cervical cancer is a major cause of cancer mortality in women worldwide and is initiated by infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs). High-risk HPVs, especially HPV-16, are associated with other anogenital cancers and a subgroup of head-and-neck cancers. Indeed, HPV infection could account for the development of head-and-neck cancer in certain individuals that lack the classical risk factors for this disease (tobacco and alcohol abuse). This Review summarizes the main events of the HPV life cycle, the functions of the viral proteins, and the implications of HPV infection on their hosts, with an emphasis on carcinogenic mechanisms and disease outcomes in head-and-neck cancer. The demonstration that HPVs have a role in human carcinogenesis has allowed the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the incidence and mortality of HPV-associated cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphapapillomavirus / genetics
  • Alphapapillomavirus / isolation & purification
  • Alphapapillomavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Alphapapillomavirus / physiology
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology*
  • Female
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oncogenes
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / therapy
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / virology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / physiology


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Viral Proteins