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.
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