HPV-associated Oropharyngeal Cancers--Are They Preventable?

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Sep;4(9):1346-9. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0379.


It is not known whether a human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced oropharyngeal precancerous lesion could be identified by screening with a pap test equivalent or whether one even exists. In this issue of the journal (beginning on page 1378), Fakhry and colleagues report their results showing that cytologic evaluation of the oropharynx, although useful in detecting invasive oropharyngeal cancers, may have limited utility as a screening modality for detecting precancer. These findings argue against the potential for secondary prevention of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers through screening for and preventing the progression of precancer and highlight the opportunity for primary prevention through prophylactic HPV vaccination, if proven efficacious and cost-effective.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomaviridae / metabolism*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Prevalence