Objective To determine whether periodontitis is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) status of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Design and Setting Hospital-based case-control study in a comprehensive cancer center.
Patients Evaluation included all patients diagnosed with incident primary squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, and larynx between 1999 and 2007 for whom tissue samples and dental records were available (N = 124). Patients younger than 21 years and those with a history of cancer were excluded. Periodontitis history was assessed by alveolar bone loss in millimeters from panoramic radiographs by one examiner blinded to cancer status.
Main Outcome Measure The presence of HPV-16 DNA in paraffin-embedded tumor samples was identified by polymerase chain reaction.
Results The prevalence of HPV-positive HNSCC was 50 of 124 patients (40.3%). A higher proportion of oropharyngeal cancers were HPV-positive (32 of 49 [65.3%]) compared with oral cavity (9 of 31 [29.0%]) and laryngeal (9 of 44 [20.5%]) cancers. Each millimeter of alveolar bone loss was associated with 2.6 times increased odds (odds ratio [OR], 2.61; 95% CI, 1.58-4.30) of HPV-positive tumor status after adjustment for age at diagnosis, sex, and smoking status. The strength of the association was greater among patients with oropharyngeal SCC (OR, 11.70; 95% CI, 2.09-65.53) compared with those with oral cavity SCC (OR, 2.32; 95% CI, 0.65-8.27) and laryngeal SCC (OR, 3.89; 95% CI, 0.95-15.99).
Conclusions A history of chronic inflammatory disease in the oral cavity may be associated with tumor HPV status in patients with HNSCC. This association seems to be stronger among patients with oropharyngeal cancer compared with those who have oral cavity or laryngeal SCC.