HPV in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Where in the Maze?

Komal Khot, Sheeba Alex, Usha Sharma


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is a significant cause of cancer worldwide and ranks 6th among all malignancies. Oral squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers in Indian subcontinent. The path that brings people to oral cancers has two distinct etiologies: one through tobacco and alcohol, other via the human papilloma virus (HPV). There is growing evidence that HPV-16 may act as a co-carcinogen, along with tobacco, in the causation of oral cancers. It has been identified as an etiologic agent for subset of oral squamous cell carcinomas, specifically those arising from the oropharynx, including base of tongue and tonsils. The two most harmful and cancer causing human papilloma viruses are HPV-16 & HPV-18. In the oral environment it is HPV-16 that we are concerned with. Oral squamous cell carcinoma associated with HPV-16 have prognostic significance as they have been found to have better outcomes, being more responsive to radiotherapy and showing higher survival rates.  This article highlights the role of HPV-16 in the etiopathogenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma and presents various diagnostic aids which can be used to detect HPV.


Human Papillomavirus; E6 Protein; E7 Oncoprotein; HPV Genome;Immortalization; HPV Vaccines; Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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