Author(s): Miguel RE, Villa LL, Cordeiro AC, Prado JC, Sobrinho JS
The main purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in patients with head and neck carcinomas from Brazil.
Forty-five patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma were included in the study, from 1995 to 1996. Forty-two were male and 3 female, with age ranging from 32 to 82 years (median 61). Five patients (11%) did not have previous history of use of tobacco and 38 (90.5%) were heavy smokers. Tumor sites were pyriform sinus, 10; tongue, 11 (oral, 6; base, 5); larynx, 7; floor of mouth, 3; tonsil, 6; retromolar area, 3; inferior gingiva 2; buccal mucosa, 2; and maxillary sinus in 1 patient. Twenty-five were stage IV, 17 stage III, and 3 stage II.
The presence of HPV DNA was detected in 5 of 45 patients (11%), all of them with HPV 16. Two patients had HPV DNA in normal mucosa and tumor tissue, 1 patient had HPV DNA only in the normal mucosa and tumor tissue, 1 patient had HPV DNA only in the normal mucosa, and 2 patients were positive for HPV DNA in tumor tissue. Four patients were male and 1 was female; 2 patients were nonsmokers. Three patients had tonsil carcinoma, 1 patient had a tongue carcinoma, and 1 patient had a pyriform sinus cancer.
The role of chemical carcinogens seems to be more important in the genesis of head and neck cancer than is HPV infection. The presence of HPV DNA in 5 of 45 patients stimulates further investigation to determine the role of HPV as a risk factor for head and neck carcinoma.