The evolving landscape of HPV-related neoplasia in the head and neck

Hum Pathol. 2019 Dec:94:29-39. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2019.09.001. Epub 2019 Oct 22.


Human papilloma virus (HPV) has emerged as the key etiologic driver in the majority of cancers at head and neck mucosal sites. First described in the uterine cervix and subsequently in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas, the morphologic and clinical spectrum of HPV-related neoplasia has continued to expand and now includes a newly described entity in the sinonasal tract. A recent study has also suggested a role of HPV in some ocular adnexal sebaceous carcinomas. Herein, we review and concisely summarize the spectrum of HPV-driven neoplasia in the head and neck, with a focus on variant morphologies and newly-described entities including key differential diagnoses and clinical implications.

Keywords: Human papilloma virus; Multiphenotypic sinonasal carcinoma; Oropharyngeal carcinoma; Oropharynx; Squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Cell Transformation, Viral*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Papillomaviridae / pathogenicity*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / epidemiology
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / pathology
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / virology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDKN2A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16