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Recent Rise in Oropharyngeal Cancer Incidence Due to HPV

HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers increase by 225 percent from 1988 to 2004 in U.S.

MONDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The recent increase in population-level incidence and survival of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCCs) in the United States from 1984 to 2004 is due to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Anil K. Chaturvedi, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Md., and colleagues investigated whether increased population-level incidence and survival of OPSCC in the United States were caused by HPV infection. The HPV status of 271 samples from three population-based cancer registries was evaluated between 1984 and 2004 by using polymerase chain reaction and genotyping (Inno-LiPA), HPV16 viral load, and HPV16 mRNA expression. Trends in HPV prevalence and incidence were evaluated across four calendar periods. Survival was compared for HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients.

The investigators found that there was a significant increase in HPV prevalence in oropharyngeal tumors irrespective of the detection assay used. HPV prevalence increased from 16.3 percent in 1984 to 71.7 percent in 2004 using Inno-LiPA. HPV-positive patients had significantly longer survival than HPV-negative patients (131 versus 20 months, respectively), and survival increased significantly over calendar periods for HPV-positive patients but not for HPV-negative patients. From 1988 to 2004, the incidence rates for HPV-positive OPSCCs increased by 225 percent (from 0.8 to 2.6 per 100,000), but incidence of HPV-negative OPSCCs declined by 50 percent (from 2.0 to 1.0 per 100,000).

"Increases in the population-level incidence and survival of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States since 1984 are caused by HPV infection," the authors write.

Several of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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