Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are involved in approximately 5% of all human cancer. Although initially recognized for causing nearly all cases of cervical carcinoma, much data has now emerged implicating HPVs as a causal factor in other anogenital cancers as well as a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs), most commonly oropharyngeal cancers. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that patients with HPV+ oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) have improved survival compared to patients with HPV- cancers. Furthermore, epidemiological evidence shows the incidence of OPSCC has been steadily rising over time in the United States. It has been proposed that an increase in HPV-related OPSCCs is the driving force behind the increasing rate of OPSCC. Although some studies have revealed an increase in HPV+ head and neck malignancies over time in specific regions of the United States, there has not been a comprehensive study validating this trend across the entire country. Therefore, we undertook this meta-analysis to assess all literature through August 2013 that reported on the prevalence of HPV in OPSCC for patient populations within the United States. The results show an increase in the prevalence of HPV+ OPSCC from 20.9% in the pre-1990 time period to 51.4% in 1990-1999 and finally to 65.4% for 2000-present. In this manner, our study provides further evidence to support the hypothesis that HPV-associated OPSCCs are driving the increasing incidence of OPSCC over time in the United States.
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