Papillomavirus umano e carcinomi del tratto aerodigestivo: Il punto sulle evidenze nella babele dei dati scientifici

Translated title of the contribution: Human papillomavirus and head and neck carcinomas: Focus on evidence in the babel of published data

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx is a well-defined entity mostly affecting young to middle-aged male non-smokers. It is generally associated with a favourable outcome, and for this reason a less intensive therapeutic approach has been proposed for this subset of patients. The incidence of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers is rapidly increasing in most Western countries, but detailed epidemiological data are not available for the Italian population. Furthermore, among other head and neckregions, a smaller proportion of oral high-grade dysplasia and cancers seems to depend on HPV infection, whereas its role in laryngealcancer is recognised as less relevant. HPV-dependent neoplastic transformation depends on the expression of viral oncogenes in the infected host cell that can only be directly documented through viral oncogene mRNA identification. The consensus on how to classify these patients from clinical and laboratory diagnostic points of view is still limited, with different approaches based on one or more diagnostic techniques including p16 immunostaining, in situ hybridisation and polymerase chain reation (PCR) amplification of viral DNA. The possibility of early diagnosis relying on the identification of HPV infection in oral and oropharyngeal exfoliated cells has so far provided unsatisfactory results, although viral persistence after treatment has been associated with risk of recurrence. Presently, sufficient data are not available to document the natural history and progression from tonsillar HPV infection to oropharyngeal cancer development, and to clearly define the modality of transmission and risk exposure, among which sexual behaviours appear to play a relevant role. The diffusion of HPV vaccination and its administration to both genders will undoubtedly dramatically modify the epidemiology of HPV-related head and neck cancers in the coming years.

Translated title of the contributionHuman papillomavirus and head and neck carcinomas: Focus on evidence in the babel of published data
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalActa Otorhinolaryngologica Italica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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