HPV in Cancer of the Head and Neck

March 2nd, 2017 by admin in Head and Neck Cancer, Mouth, Throat Clinic Comments Off on HPV in Cancer of the Head and Neck

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of most common sexually transmitted infections in Australia. It is highly contagious, and as well as affecting genital areas, can infect the mouth and throat. HPV found in the mouth and throat is called ‘oral HPV’.

Few studies have examined how people get oral HPV, but it is suggested that it may be passed during oral sex and open-mouthed kissing. There are numerous types of HPV; with 15 classified as ‘high risk’ types of which 2 (HPV16 and HPV18) are the most common. These high-risk types can cause cancers in the head and neck region, most commonly in the oral cavity or oropharynx. HPV-positive oropharyngeal malignancies have increased 225 percent from 1988 to 2004.

HPV is responsible for 45%-90% of cases, so an understanding of the virus is pivotal.

The good news is that HPV positive cancers of the head and neck have a much better prognosis, with a 5-year survival rate of 62% for HPV positive cases versus 28% for HPV negative Cases.

If you have noticed oral papillomas developing or recurring, you should come and see Professor Havas for a full assessment to ascertain the etiology of the symptoms and whether HPV is playing a part.

HPV positive Oral Cavity Tumours HPV Negative Oral cavity Tumours
Transmission Sexually Transmitted.
Etiological Factors Links to sexual Practice (having many oral sex partners) Heavy smoking and/or drinking, older age group.
Diagnostic Factors No standard testing; mechanism and blood test, in situ hybridization and PCR commonly used. Clinical Testing
Prognostic Factors Median survival 11 years Median survival 6 years
Treatment Chemotherapy/ radiotherapy or surgery followed by radiotherapy with possible chemotherapy. Chemotherapy/ radiotherapy or surgery followed by radiotherapy with possible chemotherapy.
Prevention Vaccination has been shown to be effective against HPV subtype 16 Healthy lifestyle important, above all limiting smoking and drinking.