Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) are the sixth most common cancers worldwide, accounting
for 633000 new cases annually. The etiology of HNSCC is considered to be multifactorial. Smoking and excessive alcohol
consumption are well-established risk factors for HNSCCs. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) particularly subtype 16
has been proposed as a risk factor in Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) development. Other oncogenic virus species
i.e., Epstein Barr Virus and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 have also been proposed to be involved in oral carcinogenesis.
Recent trends show that there is a decrease in incidence of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma associated with the tobacco
use and increase in the HPV associated with OSCC. The identification of HPV in oropharyngeal carcinomas has
clinical implications resulting in better prognosis, longer survival and higher rate of response to therapy as compared to
HPV negative oral cancer cases. The current paper reviews the different investigative approaches used towards oncoviruses
particularly human papilloma virus (subtype-16) using polymerase chain reaction(PCR), in situ hybridization (ISH)
technique for HPV DNA, and E6/E7 messenger RNA, with p16 immunohistochemistry (IHC) as a surrogate marker, and
also includes the recent patents. An attempt is being made to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of all the diagnostic
Keywords: Human papilloma virus, in situ hybridization, oncoviruses, oral cancer, patents, polymerase chain reaction.
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