Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated tumors account for a significant proportion of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) in developed countries. In recent years, there has been a rise of HPV infections associated with HNSCC, especially HPV16, which is the most commonly detected type in oral and oropharyngeal cancers. To investigate the frequency of HPV-driven HNSCC among patients living in Turkey, HPV DNA positivity and p16INK4A expression were assessed in primary tumor biopsies (n = 106). Eighteen out of one hundred and six (19%) HNSCC tumors showed p16INK4A overexpression, and 26/106 cases (24.5%) were positive for HPV DNA. Sixteen out of twenty-six samples were positive for both HPV DNA and p16INK4A staining. HPV16 could be isolated from 22/26 samples (84.6%) and was found to be the most frequently detected HPV type. This study represents the largest cohort of Turkish patients with HNSCC characterized according to HPV status and p16INK4A expression. Our data suggest that HPV16 infection, along with smoking, contribute to the development of HNSCC.
Keywords: head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC); human papillomavirus (HPV); oral cavity; oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC); p16INK4A.