Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in HPV-positive patients with oropharyngeal cancer and their partners

J Clin Oncol. 2014 Aug 10;32(23):2408-15. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.55.1341. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


Purpose: To better understand oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cancer risk among long-term sexual partners of patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC).

Patients and methods: An oral rinse sample, risk factor survey, cancer history, and oral examination (partners only) were collected from patients with HPV-OPC and their partners. Oral rinse samples were evaluated for 36 types of HPV DNA using PGMY 09/11 primers and line-blot hybridization and HPV16 copy number using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Oral HPV prevalence was compared with infection among those age 45 to 65 years using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010.

Results: A total of 164 patients with HPV-OPC and 93 of their partners were enrolled. Patients were primarily men (90%), were never-smokers (51%), and had performed oral sex (97%), with a median age of 56 years; they had a high prevalence of oncogenic oral HPV DNA (61%) and oral HPV16 DNA (54%) at enrollment. Female partners had comparable oncogenic oral HPV prevalence compared with members of the general population of the same age (1.2% v 1.3%). Among the six male partners, no oncogenic oral HPV infections were detected. No precancers or cancers were identified during partner oral cancer screening examinations. However, a history of cervical disease was reported by nine partners (10.3%) and two female patients (11.8%), and three patients (2.0%) reported a previous partner who developed invasive cervical cancer.

Conclusion: Oral HPV16 DNA is commonly detected among patients with HPV-OPC at diagnosis, but not among their partners. Partners of patients with HPV-OPC do not seem to have elevated oral HPV infection compared with the general population.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01342978.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / genetics
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01342978