Head and neck cancers are associated with genus alpha HPV infections .
although this is a weaker correlation than with anogenital cancers .
Also, although tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for non – HPV – associated head and neck cancers, this is not true in HPV – associated head and neck cancers. HPV appears to be important, specifically in oropharyngeal cancers, such as the tonsils and the base of the tongue. The tonsils mimic the cervix and the anal verge as sites of metaplastic epithelium, making them an appropriate site for HPV infection. Studies have shown patients with anogenital cancers have a two – and – a – half – to fourfold increased risk of
tonsillar cancer, and their partners are at increased risk of tonsillar cancer or cancer of the tongue.
A case – control study of patients with oropharyngeal cancer showed sexual behavior as a primary risk factor; a high lifetime number of vaginal – sex partners or oral – sex partners was associated with cancer (3.1 and 3.4 odds ratio, respectively) . Oral infection with high – risk HPV types were strongly associated with oropharyngeal cancer (12.3 odds ratio). Again, understanding
sexual behaviors is critical for predicting changes in oral cancer epidemiology, just as seen in anal cancer incidence.