Prospective studies are needed to examine the temporal relationship between oral human papillomavirus (HPV) detection and risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Moreover, the oral cavity contains a wide spectrum of α-, β-, and γ-HPV types, but their association with risk of HNSCC is unknown.
To prospectively examine associations between α-, β-, and γ-HPV detection in the oral cavity and incident HNSCC.
A nested case-control study was carried out among 96 650 participants, cancer free at baseline, with available mouthwash samples in 2 prospective cohort studies: (1) the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort and (2) the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Incident cases of HNSCC (n = 132) were identified during an average 3.9 years of follow-up in both cohorts. Three controls per case (n = 396) were selected through incidence density sampling and matched on age, sex, race/ethnicity, and time since mouthwash collection.
Through a next-generation sequencing assay, DNA from α-, β-, and γ-HPV types were detected. Conditional logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs, adjusting for smoking history, alcohol consumption, and detection of HPV-16 for β- and γ-HPVs.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Incident HNSCC, which includes cancers of the oropharynx, oral cavity, and larynx.
A total of 132 participants developed HNSCC during the follow-up period (103 men and 29 women; average age at baseline, 66.5 years). Oral HPV-16 detection was associated with incident HNSCC (OR, 7.1; 95% CI, 2.2-22.6), with positive association for oropharyngeal SCC (OR, 22.4; 95% CI, 1.8-276.7), but not for oral cavity (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 0.6-34.7) or laryngeal SCCs (OR, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.01-834.80). Detection of β1-HPV-5 and β2-HPV-38 types, as well as γ-11 and γ-12 species, had ORs for HNSCC that ranged from 2.64 to 5.45 (P < .01 for all comparisons). Detection of β1-HPV-5 type was associated with oropharyngeal (OR, 7.42; 95% CI, 0.98-56.82; P = .054), oral cavity (OR, 5.34; 95% CI, 1.51-18.80; P = .01), and laryngeal SCCs (OR, 2.71; 95% CI, 1.00-7.43; P = .05), whereas γ11- and γ12-HPV species were associated with both oral cavity (OR, 7.47; 95% CI, 1.21-46.17; P = .03; and OR, 6.71; 95% CI, 1.47-30.75; P = .01, respectively) and laryngeal SCCs (OR, 7.49; 95% CI, 1.10-51.04; P = .04 and OR, 5.31; 95% CI, 1.13-24.95; P = .03, respectively).
Conclusions and Relevance
This study demonstrates that HPV-16 detection precedes the incidence of oropharyngeal SCC. Associations of other HPVs, including γ11- and γ12-HPV species and β1-HPV-5 type suggest a broader role for HPVs in HNSCC etiology.