Zigui Chen, Amy B. W. Chan, Lok-Sang Kam, Man-Hin Chan, Jason Y. K. Chan, Wai-Tung Lee, Chit Chow, Siaw S. Boon, Chichao Xia, Brian Lam, Suki Lam, Rita W. Y. Ng, Wendy C. S. Ho, Eddy W. H. Lam, Christopher K. C. Lai, Paul K. S. Chan

Changes in the Incidence and Human Papillomavirus-Positive Portion of Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Hong Kong

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is rising in the West, but little is known in Asia. This study elucidated changes in the incidence and HPV-positive portion of OPSCC in Hong Kong. Data from population-based cancer registry were used to analyze the incidence of OPSCC in association with other head and neck cancers. Archived tumor tissues were tested for HPV. From 1986 to 2020, there was a marked decrease in the incidence of nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, but a persistent increase in OPSCC from 36 cases in 1986 to 116 cases in 2020. The average positive rate for high-risk HPV was 36.1% (112/310) among OPSCC diagnosed in 2010–2020. The HPV-positive rate in recent years was significantly higher than earlier cases (tonsil SCC: 64.7% (55/85) in 2016–2020 vs. 40.4% (19/47) in 2010–2015, p = 0.007). Patients with HPV-positive tonsil cancers were significantly younger than those negative (mean [SD]: 58.9 [9.9] vs. 64.3 [13.3] years, p = 0.006), but no significant difference was observed between genders. A persistent increase in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer over the last few decades was observed in Hong Kong, which can be explained by the remarkable increase in HPV-positive tonsil cancers.

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