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Invited Commentary
June 2018

Human Papillomavirus in the Mouth and Throat: More Widespread Than Expected?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Head and Neck Oncologic and Endocrine Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco
  • 2Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018;144(6):525-526. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.0389

In this issue of JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, Li et al1 shows that human papillomavirus–positive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may be associated with improved overall survival not only in the oropharynx but also possibly in the upper aerodigestive tract subsites—oral cavity, larynx, and hypopharynx. This finding is persuasive given the large sample size used, which was obtained from the National Cancer Database (NCDB), and the multivariate analysis performed. Previous studies with smaller sample sizes have similarly suggested the favorable prognostic role of HPV in cancer in nonoropharyngeal head and neck sites,2 although other studies have refuted this possibility.3

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