Background: As human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination becomes widely available in the US for cervical cancer prevention, it may also affect the rates of other cancers potentially associated with HPV. The objective of the current study was to describe the incidence rates of oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancers in the US with a focus on anatomic sites potentially associated with HPV infection.
Methods: Incident cases diagnosed between 1998 and 2003 identified through 39 population-based registries that participate in the National Program of Cancer Registries and/or the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program were examined. The incidence rates of potentially HPV-associated oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancers by various characteristics were estimated. The 1998 through 2003 trends in these rates were also compared with rates for sites not previously shown to be associated with HPV (comparison sites).
Results: In all, 44,160 cases of potentially HPV-associated cancers of the oropharynx and oral cavity were identified, including 19,239 (43.6%) tonsillar, 16,964 (38.4%) base of tongue, and 7957 (18.0%) other oropharyngeal cancers. The incidence rates for these sites were highest among blacks, and higher among non-Hispanics and men than among Hispanics and women. The annual incidence rates of potentially HPV-associated cancers of the tonsil and base of tongue both increased significantly from 1998 through 2003 (annual percentage change [APC], 3.0; P < .05 for both sites), whereas the incidence rates of cancer at the comparison sites generally decreased.
Conclusions: The results of the current study provide baseline incidence rates of potentially HPV-associated cancers of the oropharynx and oral cavity that can be compared with rates after the widespread implementation of the HPV vaccination.