The sinonasal tract: another potential "hot spot" for carcinomas with transcriptionally-active human papillomavirus

Head Neck Pathol. 2014;8(3):241-9. doi: 10.1007/s12105-013-0514-4. Epub 2013 Dec 14.


While high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is well established as causative and clinically important for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oropharynx, its role in non-oropharyngeal head and neck SCC is much less clearly elucidated. In the sinonasal region, in particular, although it is a relatively uncommon site for SCC, as many as 20 % of SCC harbor transcriptionally-active high risk HPV. These tumors almost always have a nonkeratinizing morphology and may have a better prognosis. In addition, specific variants of SCC as well as other rare carcinoma types, when arising in the sinonasal tract, can harbor transcriptionally-active HPV. This article reviews the current literature on HPV in sinonasal carcinomas, attempts to more clearly demonstrate what tumors have it and how this relates to possible precursor lesions like inverted papilloma, and discusses the possible clinical ramifications of the presence of the virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology*
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / virology*