The Prevalence of HPV in Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Seyed Keybud Katirachi*, Mathias Peter Grønlund, Kathrine Kronberg Jakobsen, Christian Grønhøj, Christian von Buchwald

*Corresponding author for this work


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an important risk factor in a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), but the association with oral cavity squamous cell carcinomas (OCSCC) remains controversial. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of HPV infection in OCSCC. A systematic search on PubMed and EMBASE was performed, including articles assessing the prevalence of HPV-positive (HPV+) OCSCC published from January 2017 to December 2022. OCSCC was considered HPV+ by the detection of HPV DNA, HPV RNA, and/or p16 overexpression in the tumor mass. A meta-analysis was made determining the overall HPV+ OCSCC prevalence. We included 31 studies comprising 5007 patients from 24 countries. The study size ranged from 17 to 940 patients. The HPV+ OCSCC proportion variated widely and ranged from 0% to 37%. Tumors in the tongue were the predominant sublocation for HPV in the oral cavity. The meta-analysis revealed that the overall HPV+ OCSCC prevalence is 6% (95% CI; 3-10%), and only one study found HPV and OCSCC significantly associated. Thus, HPV may not be a necessary or a strong risk factor in OCSCC oncogenesis, and the possibility of a site misclassification of a mobile tongue with the root of the tongue cannot be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Article number451
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2023


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