Human papillomavirus in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas in nonsmokers

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997 May;123(5):513-6. doi: 10.1001/archotol.1997.01900050063008.


Objective: To establish relationships between smoking status and human papillomavirus in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

Design: Human papillomavirus was detected in paraffin-embedded samples using E6-directed consensus primers and type-specific oligonucleotide probes. Patients were classified as smokers and nonsmokers. Alcohol use was also recorded. Data were analyzed by means of the Fisher exact test. Sequence analysis of exons 5 to 8 of the p53 gene was performed in tumor samples from nonsmokers.

Setting: Academic medical center in Paris, France.

Patients: One hundred eighty-seven consecutive patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Results: The overall prevalence of human papillomaviral infection was 10.7%. Human papillomavirus occurred more frequently (P = .02) in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (18.6%) than in other locations (6.1%). There were 10 nonsmokers (5%). The 50% incidence of human papillomavirus in nonsmokers (95% confidence interval, 19%-81%) differed significantly from the 8.5% incidence in smokers (95% confidence interval, 5%-14%; P = .003). No occupational risk factor was recorded in nonsmokers. None of these patients had p53 gene mutations in cancer cells.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that human papillomavirus may play a role in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas in nonsmokers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Paris / epidemiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Smoking* / genetics
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology


  • DNA, Viral