Circulating hpv dna in the management of oropharyngeal and cervical cancers: Current knowledge and future perspectives

Eriseld Krasniqi, Maddalena Barba, Aldo Venuti, Laura Pizzuti, Federico Cappuzzo, Lorenza Landi, Silvia Carpano, Paolo Marchetti, Alice Villa, Enrico Vizza, Greta Giuliano, Marco Mazzotta, Daniele Marinelli, Sandra Gnignera, Cristina Vincenzoni, Vincenzo Stranges, Domenico Sergi, Antonio Giordano, Federica Tomao, Marcello Maugeri-SaccàGiuseppe Sanguineti, Francesca Sofia Di Lisa, Silverio Tomao, Gennaro Ciliberto, Patrizia Vici

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are associated with invasive malignancies, including almost 100% of cervical cancers (CECs), and 35–70% of oropharyngeal cancers (OPCs). HPV infection leads to clinical implications in related tumors by determining better prognosis and predicting treatment response, especially in OPC. Currently, specific and minimally invasive tests allow for detecting HPV-related cancer at an early phase, informing more appropriately therapeutical decisions, and allowing for timely disease monitoring. A blood-based biomarker detectable in liquid biopsy represents an ideal candidate, and the use of circulating HPV DNA (ct-DNA) itself could offer the highest specificity for such a scope. Circulating HPV DNA is detectable in the greatest part of patients affected by HPV-related cancers, and studies have demonstrated its potential usefulness for CEC and OPC clinical management. Unfortunately, when using conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the detection rate of serum HPV DNA is low. Innovative techniques such as droplet-based digital PCR and next generation sequencing are becoming increasingly available for the purpose of boosting HPV ct-DNA detection rate. We herein review and critically discuss the most recent and representative literature, concerning the role of HPV ctDNA in OPC and CEC in the light of new technologies that could improve the potential of this biomarker in fulfilling many of the unmet needs in the clinical management of OPC and CEC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1525
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Cervical cancer
  • Circulating HPV DNA
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Oropharyngeal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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