Investigating HPV-positive Cancers, Two Studies
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is responsible for a growing number of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States. OSUCCC – James researcher Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, led a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology to learn if the same might be true globally.
Gillison, an expert on HPV-associated oral cancer, and her collaborators investigated the potential effect of HPV infection versus smoking on oropharyngeal cancer incidence in 23 countries across four continents.
The researchers compared the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer, which is often associated with HPV, and oral cancer, which is associated with smoking, from 1982-2002. During the 19-year period:
- Oropharyngeal cancer incidence significantly increased in the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Slovakia, particularly among men.
- Oral cancer incidence in these countries remained unchanged or decreased.
“Our results suggest that the increase in oropharyngeal cancer was likely due to HPV infection,” Gillison says, “and they underscore the potential importance of HPV as a cause of oropharyngeal cancer globally.”
A second study co-authored by Gillison and published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases investigated concurrent oral-cervical HPV infections in the United States.
The study, led by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed HPV data collected from the oral cavity and the cervix by women participating in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) in 2009 and 2010. Test results were available for 1,812 adult females. The study found:
- An HPV prevalence of 42.7 percent in the cervix and 3.8 percent in the oral cavity.
- The prevalence of oral HPV was fve times higher among women with cervical HPV than among those without.
- Of the 3 percent of women with HPV infection at both sites, 7 percent had identical viral types at both sites, and 38 percent showed partial similarity.
“The high degree of dissimilarity in HPV at the two sites suggests that the infections might be acquired separately, or that the biology of the infections is different,” Gillison says. “Either way, infection at one site could increase the risk of infection at the other site.”
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