Human papillomavirus infection in the etiology of laryngeal carcinoma

Christopher G L Hobbs, Martin A. Birchall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: One fifth of cancers worldwide are associated with viral infection. Indeed, the causal link between human papillomavirus and cervical carcinoma is so well established that it is thought to be the first necessary cause of human cancer ever identified. One of the primary aims of research in this area is to reduce cancer prevalence by vaccination. However, the role that human papillomavirus plays in carcinogenesis of the head and neck region may also have important implications for its prevention and treatment. Recent findings: Although human papillomavirus was first identified in the larynx 20 years ago, the extent to which it is present in epithelium of the normal population is unclear. Laryngeal papillomas are the most common benign tumors in the larynx. They are associated with a small risk (3 to 7%) of malignant transformation, in which smoking and irradiation appear to be cofactors. The search for alternate risk factors for the development of laryngeal cancer, particularly in those who are nonsmokers and nondrinkers, has led to the hypothesis that human papillomavirus may have a pivotal role. Epidemiologic studies, although not conclusive, strongly suggest its involvement in the etiology of a subset of laryngeal carcinomas. Recent molecular evidence supports this. Summary: An adequately powered, multicenter case-control study is required to elucidate the full extent of this association and to examine the relation between the virus and other risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Human papillomavirus
  • Laryngeal carcinoma
  • Laryngeal papilloma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Human papillomavirus infection in the etiology of laryngeal carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this