Human papillomavirus (HPV) is recognized as a major cause of oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) in Western countries. Less is known regarding its contribution to the OPC occurring in Asia. The current study aimed to investigate the association between antibody responses to HPV16 E7 and head and neck cancer (HNC) risk in a hospital-based case–control study conducted in Taiwan with 693 HNC cases and 1,035 controls. A positive association was observed between seropositivity to HPV16 E7 and OPC risk, whereas no significant association was found in the non-OPC cases. The increased OPC risk associated with seropositivity to HPV16 E7 was more significant among nonbetel quid or noncigarette users. Seropositivity to HPV16 E7 showed moderate agreement with P16 expression in OPC. OPC patients that were seropositive to HPV16 E7 or p16 positive were more highly educated and less likely to use alcohol, betel quids, and cigarettes compared to HPV16 E7 seronegative or p16 negative OPC patients. Furthermore, patients with p16 positive OPC were more likely to be women compared to patients with p16 negative OPC, likely owing to the low prevalence of alcohol, betel quid, and cigarette users among women. Overall, this study suggested that similar to Western countries, HPV may also be an important risk factor of OPC in Taiwan. With the declining consumption of betel quids and cigarettes in Taiwan, a higher percentage of OPC cases in Taiwan will be attributed to HPV in the future. Public health measures, including HPV vaccination, need to be implemented to prevent the occurrence of HPV-positive OPC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes