Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now established as the principal cause of an increase in incidence of a subset of head and neck squamous cell cancers (HNCs) in numerous geographic regions around the world. Further study of the epidemiology of HPV-positive HNC will be critical to the development and implementation of public health interventions to reverse these global incidence trends. Here, recent data are reviewed to provide insight into several topics, including incidence trends and projections for HPV-positive HNC; the worldwide HPV-attributable fraction; sex disparities in cancer risk; the epidemiology of oral HPV infection; the latency period between infection and cancer; the potential impact of prophylactic HPV vaccination; and prospects for secondary prevention through screening for oral HPV infection or seroreactivity to viral antigens. The identification of a single necessary cause for any cancer provides a rare and perhaps extraordinary opportunity for cancer prevention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research