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Study examines associations of HPV types, risk of head and neck

January 21, 2016

A new study suggests detection of human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 in the oral cavity was associated with 22-times increased risk of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. The study by Ilir Agalliu, M.D., Sc.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and coauthors also reports positive associations of other oral HPVs usually detected on the skin with the risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which suggests the role of HPV in HNSCC may be more important than currently recognized. The study was carried out among 96,650 participants from two large study groups who were cancer-free at baseline and had available mouthwash samples. There were 132 cases of HNSCC identified during an average follow-up of almost four years. The study included 396 healthy individuals (three for every case of HNSCC). The authors note limitations of the study because of its small sample size, which reflects the rarity of HNSCC. "The use of easily collected oral mouthwash samples can provide a prospective marker for risk of HNSCC and oropharyngeal SCC," the study concludes.
To read the full study and a related editorial by Dana E. Rollison, PhD., of the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, and Maura L. Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., of Ohio State University, Columbus, please visit the For The Media website.

(JAMA Oncol. Published online January 21, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.5504. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor's Note: The study includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media Advisory: To contact corresponding study author Ilir Agalliu, M.D., Sc.D., call Deirdre Branley at 718-430-2923 or email

The JAMA Network Journals

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