The incidence of tonsil cancers has increased in several countries. French data on HPV prevalence in tonsil cancers are scarce. The objective of this study was thus to assess the overall and type specific HPV prevalence in tonsil histological samples.
This French retrospective multicenter study involved 12 centres located throughout the country. Were included 185 histological samples collected from year 2000 to 2009 with a validated diagnosis of tonsil invasive carcinomas. HPV prevalence was studied according to gender, age and histological type of cancer.
Overall HPV prevalence was 57% in tonsil cancers. Mean age of diagnosis was comparable in HPV positive tonsils cases (60 ± 11.2) and HPV negative tonsil cases (59 ± 9.6). HPV prevalence was significantly higher in female than in male cases (28/35 versus 78/150 in tonsil cases, respectively, P = 0.003). About 53% of tonsil cases were infected by a single HPV type. Only eight (4%) samples were infected by more than one HPV type. Among HPV positive samples, HPV 16 was found in 89% of tonsil cases. All other HPV types had prevalence below 5%.
Our results indicate that HPV is common in tonsil carcinomas and emphasize the predominant role of HPV 16.