A rising incidence of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) incidence has occurred throughout the developed world, where it has been attributed to an increasing impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) on disease etiology. This report presents the findings of a multicenter cross-sectional retrospective study aimed at determining the proportion of HPV-positive and HPV-negative OPSCC within the United Kingdom. Archival tumor tissue blocks from 1,602 patients previously diagnosed with OPSCC (2002-2011) were collated from 11 centers. HPV status was determined with three validated commercial tests to provide valid data for 1,474 cases in total. Corresponding national incidence data from the same decade were obtained from UK Cancer registries. The overall proportion of HPV(+) OPSCC between 2002 and 2011 was 51.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 49.3-54.4], and this remained unchanged throughout the decade [unadjusted RR = 1.00 (95% CI, 0.99-1.02)]. However, over the same period, the incidence of OPSCC in the broader UK population underwent a 2-fold increase [age-standardized rate 2002: 2.1 (95% CI, 1.9-2.2); 2011: 4.1 (95% CI, 4.0-4.3)]. Although the number of OPSCCs diagnosed within the United Kingdom from 2002 to 2011 nearly doubled, the proportion of HPV(+) cases remained static at approximately 50%. Our results argue that the rapidly increasing incidence of OPSCC in the United Kingdom cannot be solely attributable to the influence of HPV. The parallel increase in HPV(+) and HPV(-) cases we documented warrants further investigation, so that appropriate future prevention strategies for both types of disease can be implemented.
- Journal Article