Prevalence and Significance of Human Papillomavirus in Oral Tongue Cancer: The Mayo Clinic Experience

Xin Hua Liang, Jason Lewis, Robert Foote, David Smith, Deepak Kademani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cigarette smoking and alcohol use have markedly decreased in the past 40 years. However, there has been an increasing trend in the incidence of tongue cancer, particularly in young patients without traditional risk factors. This study sought to examine the prevalence and significance of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and its clinical significance in patients with oral tongue cancer. Patients and Methods: Fresh-frozen tissues from 51 patients with oral tongue cancer, treated with primary surgery from January 2004 to December 2006, were included in the study. The presence of HPV infection in tumor specimens was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction with HPV L1 consensus primers (GP 5+/GP 6+) and HPV-16-specific E6 primer pairs. Demographic and clinical data were collected to analyze patient outcomes. Results: The overall frequency of HPV in oral tongue cancer in our study was 1.96% (1/51). Young patients below the age of 45 years accounted for 15.7% (8/51) of the total number of patients. Eighty-seven percent of the younger age group, including a single patient with an HPV-16-positive tumor, were alive and free from disease during the follow-up period. The overall survival of the study group was 81.4%. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the incidence of HPV in oral tongue cancer is low and is unlikely to play a significant role in the etiology, pathogenesis, and clinical outcomes of oral tongue cancer. In addition, HPV is unlikely to constitute a significant factor in the rising trend of oral tongue cancer in the young population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1880
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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