Prevalence of human papillomavirus in cancer of the oropharynx by gender


Jean-Damien Combes, Alyce A Chen, and Silvia Franceschi. 2014. “Prevalence of human papillomavirus in cancer of the oropharynx by gender.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 23, 12, Pp. 2954-8.


Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is more frequent in men than women mainly due to the heavier and longer duration of smoking in men. Human papillomavirus (HPV) has a role in the rising incidence of OPC in the United States and other high-income countries. To determine whether there is a difference in the proportion of HPV-attributable OPC between men and women, we systematically retrieved HPV prevalence data from 63 studies reporting separately on OPC by gender. The male/female (M/F) ratios of HPV prevalence in OPC across different countries and the corresponding M/F ratios of cumulative lung cancer risk (a proxy for smoking) were compared. The United States had the highest M/F ratios of HPV prevalence in OPC (1.5). The lowest M/F ratios (≤0.7) were found in Asia and some European countries (e.g., France). The countries in which the M/F ratio of HPV prevalence in OPC was ≥1.0 had the most similar lung cancer risks for men and women. When HPV prevalence data were applied to age-standardized OPC incidence rates in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and France, the M/F ratio for the HPV-positive OPC incidence rates was rather stable (around 4) in all countries. In contrast, the M/F ratio for the HPV-negative OPC incidence rates reached 10.2 in France versus <3 elsewhere. We showed that HPV prevalence in OPC differs by gender and country mainly as a consequence of the vast international variation in male smoking habits. Nevertheless, HPV-positive OPC may affect men more heavily than women in different populations for reasons that are unclear.