Association between hepatitis C and B viruses and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Sara Donà, Daniele Borsetto, Jonathan Fussey, Valeria Biscaro, Elisa Vian, Giacomo Spinato, Anna Menegaldo, Maria Cristina Da Mosto, Roberto Rigoli, Jerry Polesel, Paolo Boscolo-Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hepatitis B and C viruses are known to be carcinogenic and have been associated with the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as hepatocellular carcinoma. The incidence of head and neck cancer is increasing worldwide, and early diagnosis is vital in order to achieve good oncological outcomes. Objectives: To investigate the association between chronic hepatitis B and C infection, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Study design: We performed a retrospective case control study with 774 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients undergoing treatment, and 1518 cancer-free controls undergoing hernia surgery. Hepatitis B and C serologies were tested prior to treatment, and cases and controls were age- and sex-matched before analysing rates of infection. Results: HNSCC patients were more likely than controls to have evidence of chronic hepatitis B (OR = 2.76; CI 95 %, 1.64–4.64) and hepatitis C (OR = 2.59; 95 % CI, 1.46–4.60) infection. No substantial association was found between hepatitis B and C infection and other known risk factors for head and neck cancer. Conclusions: These findings suggest a positive association between both hepatitis B and hepatitis C chronic infection, and HNSCC. More work is needed to establish a causal role, however an awareness of the possibility of increased risk of HNSCC may lead to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes in patients with hepatitis B and C.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104209
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Case-control study
  • Epidemiology
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hepatitis B infection
  • Hepatitis C infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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