The Japanese Cooperative Study Group for Basic Research in Head and Neck Cancer performed a multicenter prospective study to clarify the prevalence and genotype distribution of human papillomavirus (HPV) in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in Japan. Tumor tissues from 148 patients with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal SCC were tested for the presence of HPV genome by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2). Non-cancerous palatine tonsils from 53 patients with tonsillectomy due to habitual tonsillitis or tonsillar hypertrophy were also examined as controls. High-risk HPV was detected in 76 (51.4%)of 148 tumor cases and none of 53 controls by PCR. HPV type distribution revealed HPV16 in 69 cases (90.8%), HPV18 and 58 in 2 cases each (2.6%), and HPV31, 35, and 56 in 1 case (1.3%) each. Compared with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancers, HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers were less likely to occur among smokers and drinkers. In addition, detection of HPV using HC2 in oral brushing revealed that sensitivity and specificity were 90.7% and 97.1% respectively. This HC2 detection for HPV is considered to be effective and less invasive for patients with oropharyngeal SCC.
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