Epidemiology of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer

Oral Oncol. 2014 May;50(5):380-6. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.12.019. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx is increasing in incidence in epidemic proportion. This site specific increase in incidence is due to an increase in human papillomavirus (HPV)-related squamous cell carcinoma, while the incidence of tobacco related squamous cell carcinoma is decreasing. In particular, the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is increased among middle aged white men, and sexual behavior is a risk factor. HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma represents a growing etiologically distinct subset of head and neck cancers with unique epidemiological, clinical, and molecular characteristics that differ from those of HPV-unassociated cancers. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology of HPV-related OPSCC, the prevalence of oral/oropharyngeal HPV infection, and efforts aimed at reducing the incidence of HPV-related OPSCC.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Human papillomavirus; Oropharyngeal cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors