Background: The incidence of oropharyngeal cancers has gradually increased over the last decades. Recent studies suggest an association between human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and several head and neck cancers, especially oropharyngeal and oral cavity invasive carcinomas.
Objectives: The objective was to assess the overall and type specific HPV prevalence in oropharyngeal and oral cavity carcinomas in France.
Study design: Paraffin-embedded tumour specimens were retrospectively collected in 12 French centres and centrally tested for HPV detection and genotyping (INNO-LiPA assay).
Results: A total of 523 cases (77% males) were collected, among which 60% were oropharyngeal and 40% oral cavity carcinomas. The most frequent anatomical sites were tonsil (58.9%) and base of tongue (13.7%) for the oropharynx and floor of mouth (41.1%) and oral tongue (38.3%) for the oral cavity. Overall HPV prevalence was 46.5% in oropharyngeal carcinomas and 10.5% in oral cavity carcinomas and was higher in female than in male cases (63.5% vs 42.2% in oropharynx and 17.2% vs 8.0% in oral cavity). About 95% of HPV-positive cases were infected by a single HPV type. HPV 16 was the most prevalent type and was found in 89.7% and 95.5% of HPV-positive oropharyngeal and oral cavity carcinoma cases, respectively. All other HPV types had prevalence below 5%.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that HPV is common among oropharyngeal and oral cavity carcinoma cases in France and emphasize the predominance of HPV 16. The potential benefit of HPV vaccination on the occurrence of head and neck carcinomas should be further evaluated.
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