To determine whether there has been a demonstrable increase in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV)–infected palatine tonsils corresponding to the increase in incidence of HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) over time.
Review of archived, paraffin-embedded, noncancerous palatine tonsils.
A single institution in El Paso County, Colorado.
Age- and sex-matched patients 21 years and older from 2 different periods: January 1, 1979, to December 31, 1982, (group A) and January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2001 (group B).
Main Outcome Measures
Prevalence of oncogenic HPV-16 and HPV-18 in noncancerous palatine tonsils in relation to the incidence of HPV-positive oropharyngeal SCC.
All specimens in both groups were negative for HPV-16 and HPV-18. Thus, the prevalence of HPV infection in the palatine tonsils of the general adult population was zero in both group A and group B.
This analysis shows a low prevalence of HPV infection in the palatine tonsils of the general adult population in a single county in Colorado known to have an increasing rate of HPV-positive oropharyngeal SCC. Analysis of oropharyngeal tissues from individuals at highest risk of developing HPV-positive oropharyngeal SCC (middle-aged men) is likely to provide a higher prevalence rate.