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Invited Commentary
March 28, 2019

Human Papillomavirus DNA Detection in Saliva: Is It Relevant?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019;145(5):466-467. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.0161

Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has rapidly become the primary causative factor driving the epidemic of HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). Oral infections with high-risk HPV types, most notably HPV 16, are responsible for 60% to 70% of OPSCC cases in the United States.1 Determining HPV infection status in patients with newly diagnosed OPSCC, most often with p16 immunostaining as a surrogate marker, is important for risk stratification and prognostication.2 Over the last decade, there has been increasing interest in noninvasive biomarkers for cancer, including from blood and saliva. Oral rinse/gargle samples have been examined and found to contain reliable and reproducible HPV DNA data among patients with known HPV-positive OPSCC.3