Date: 24 Nov 2009

Role of Human Papillomavirus in Tonsillar Cancer

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Abstract

Tonsillar cancer is the most common of the oropharyngeal malignancies and belongs to the group of head and neck cancer that originate in the Waldeyer’s ring. Smoking and alcohol are regarded as the main etiological factors for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), but these tumors also occur in some 15-20% of patients without these risk factors. Accumulating data indicate that high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with a subgroup of HNSCC mainly oropharyngeal cancer (Gillison and Shah 2001; Mellin et al. 2000), and studies indicate that a history of smoking and high-risk HPV seropositivity, together, increase the risk for HNSCC suggesting that there is either an additive or synergistic relationship between these two risk factors.