Trends of human papillomavirus-related head and neck cancers in Korea: national cancer registry data

Laryngoscope. 2013 Nov;123(11):E30-7. doi: 10.1002/lary.24243. Epub 2013 Jul 9.


Objectives/hypothesis: The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck cancers (HNCs) is increasing sharply worldwide, while their HPV-negative counterparts are showing a decreased frequency. However, epidemiologic data related to these changes are sparse in Korea, which is rapidly adopting more westernized lifestyles.

Study design: Data from the Korea Central Cancer Registry, a nationwide population-based cancer registry, from 1999 to 2009 were retrieved.

Methods: Age-standardized rates (ASRs), their annual percent changes (APC) and male-to-female incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were analyzed and compared between HPV-related and HPV-unrelated primary sites.

Results: HPV-related sites (oropharynx) had increased significantly over the period 1999 to 2009 (APC = 2.35%, P = 0.017), particularly in young men (30-59 years, APC = 2.65%, P = 0.031), whereas HPV-unrelated sites such as larynx and hypopharynx decreased markedly in both sexes. Interestingly, tongue cancer was found to have increased gradually (APC = 2.35%, P = 0.003) in both sexes. The male-to-female IRRs and the median age of occurrence remained stable.

Conclusions: Although the cultural and ethnic background differs from the United States, cancers of HPV-related sites are increasing in Korea, whereas cancers of HPV-unrelated sites are decreasing, which is similar to the trends observed in the United States. Greater public awareness in Korea of HPV-related HNCs is therefore warranted.

Keywords: Head and neck neoplasms; Korea; cancer registry; human papillomavirus; incidence; oral cancer; oropharyngeal neoplasms; smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Time Factors