Clinico-pathological peculiarities of human papilloma virus driven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: A comprehensive update

K. Devaraja, Sadhna Aggarwal, Sumit Singh Verma, Subash Chandra Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: The current article provides a detailed account of the current understanding of molecular and clinico-pathological aspects of Human papilloma virus (HPV) driven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Materials and methods: The literature review included most of the landmark trials and clinical studies related to the HPV driven HNSCC. Key findings: HPV positive HNSCC differ distinctly from HPV negative tobacco-related HNSCC, especially in oropharyngeal region. Therefore, the American joint committee on cancer`s latest manual for classification and staging of cancer suggests a separate staging system for HPV positive oropharyngeal cancers. Despite the younger patients being affected and the high propensity for cervical metastasis, the HPV positive oropharyngeal cancers respond much better to the treatment. The association with wild type TP53 and low EGFR expression confers the favorable prognosis in HPV driven HNSCC. Since the association is not universal, we suggest checking for p53 and EGFR expression status before considering de-intensification of therapy. In addition, the presence of matted lymph nodes and five or more nodes could mean relatively poorer prognosis, and are not suitable for de-intensification of therapy. The same is also true probably with higher T stage and co-existing tobacco use. The methods for the detection of p16, HPV DNA, HPV E6/E7 mRNA, anti-E6/E7 antibodies, in tissue, in serum and in saliva of patients, along with their clinical implications are also discussed. Significance: This article provides latest developments on the HPV driven HNSCC. ‘Diagnosis of transcriptionally active HPV infection,’ ‘Modalities for surveillance,’ ‘Implication of de-escalation of therapy’ are some of the critical issues that could serve the medical, the research as well as the patient communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117383
JournalLife Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15-03-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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