Presence of human papillomaviruses and p16 expression in hypopharyngeal cancer

Head Neck. 2014 Jan;36(1):107-12. doi: 10.1002/hed.23394. Epub 2013 Sep 12.


Background: Patients with hypopharyngeal cancer have a 5-year survival of only 15% to 30%. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor and a favorable prognostic factor for oropharyngeal carcinoma and p16 has been suggested as a surrogate marker for HPV-induced cancer. However, few studies have been performed on HPV and p16 in hypopharyngeal cancer.

Methods: One hundred nine pretreatment hypopharyngeal cancer biopsies were analyzed for presence of HPV and p16 overexpression, and the results were correlated to patient survival.

Results: Of 109 tumors, 7 were HPV-positive (4 HPV16) and 18 overexpressed p16. There was some correlation between survival and HPV status, but not with regard to p16 expression. Notably, all patients with HPV16-positive tumors, also overexpressing p16, lived tumor free for more than 3 years.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that HPV-induced hypopharyngeal cancer is rare and that p16 is not a suitable biomarker for presence of HPV in this tumor type.

Keywords: head and neck cancer; human papillomavirus; hypopharynx; overall survival; p16.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16