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Citation: Haoru Dong, Xinhua Shu, Qiang Xu, Chen Zhu, Andreas M. Kaufmann, Zhi-Ming Zheng, Andreas E. Albers, Xu Qian. Current Status of Human Papillomavirus-Related Head and Neck Cancer: From Viral Genome to Patient Care [J].VIROLOGICA SINICA, 2021, 36(6) : 1284-1302.

Current Status of Human Papillomavirus-Related Head and Neck Cancer: From Viral Genome to Patient Care

  • Corresponding author: Xu Qian,, ORCID:
  • Received Date: 21 January 2021
    Accepted Date: 18 May 2021
    Published Date: 21 June 2021
    Available online: 01 December 2021
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection identified as a definitive human carcinogen is increasingly being recognized for its role in carcinogenesis of human cancers. Up to 38%–80% of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in oropharyngeal location (OPSCC) and nearly all cervical cancers contain the HPV genome which is implicated in causing cancer through its oncoproteins E6 and E7. Given by the biologically distinct HPV-related OPSCC and a more favorable prognosis compared to HPV-negative tumors, clinical trials on de-escalation treatment strategies for these patients have been studied. It is therefore raised the questions for the patient stratification if treatment de-escalation is feasible. Moreover, understanding the crosstalk of HPV-mediated malignancy and immunity with clinical insights from the proportional response rate to immune checkpoint blockade treatments in patients with HNSCC is of importance to substantially improve the treatment efficacy. This review discusses the biology of HPV-related HNSCC as well as successful clinically findings with promising candidates in the pipeline for future directions. With the advent of various sequencing technologies, further biomolecules associated with HPV-related HNSCC progression are currently being identified to be used as potential biomarkers or targets for clinical decisions throughout the continuum of cancer care.

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    Current Status of Human Papillomavirus-Related Head and Neck Cancer: From Viral Genome to Patient Care

      Corresponding author: Xu Qian,
    • 1. Department of Clinical Laboratory, Cancer Hospital of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Zhejiang Cancer Hospital), Institute of Basic Medicine and Cancer (IBMC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hangzhou, 310022, China
    • 2. Cancer Hospital of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Zhejiang Cancer Hospital), Institute of Basic Medicine and Cancer (IBMC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hangzhou, 310022, China
    • 3. Department of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Hospital University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Zhejiang Cancer Hospital), Institute of Basic Medicine and Cancer (IBMC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hangzhou, 310022, China
    • 4. Clinic for Gynecology, Berlin Institute of Health, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin, Berlin, 12203, Germany
    • 5. Tumor Virus RNA Biology Section, HIV Dynamics and Replication Program, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD, 21702, USA
    • 6. Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Berlin Institute of Health, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin, Berlin, 13353, Germany


    Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection identified as a definitive human carcinogen is increasingly being recognized for its role in carcinogenesis of human cancers. Up to 38%–80% of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in oropharyngeal location (OPSCC) and nearly all cervical cancers contain the HPV genome which is implicated in causing cancer through its oncoproteins E6 and E7. Given by the biologically distinct HPV-related OPSCC and a more favorable prognosis compared to HPV-negative tumors, clinical trials on de-escalation treatment strategies for these patients have been studied. It is therefore raised the questions for the patient stratification if treatment de-escalation is feasible. Moreover, understanding the crosstalk of HPV-mediated malignancy and immunity with clinical insights from the proportional response rate to immune checkpoint blockade treatments in patients with HNSCC is of importance to substantially improve the treatment efficacy. This review discusses the biology of HPV-related HNSCC as well as successful clinically findings with promising candidates in the pipeline for future directions. With the advent of various sequencing technologies, further biomolecules associated with HPV-related HNSCC progression are currently being identified to be used as potential biomarkers or targets for clinical decisions throughout the continuum of cancer care.