HPV infections in head and neck cancers (HNSCC) – clinical course and efficiency of therapy

Mateusz Sikora, Magda Przesławska, Rafał Becht


Head and neck cancers represent a heterogenous group of neoplasms. Among them, the most frequently occurring is squamous cell carcinoma. Risk factors that can contribute to the development of head and neck cancers are smoking, high proof alcohol abuse and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Head and neck cancers may be divided into HPV positive and HPV negative. This division shows the different landscape of carcinogenesis, median age of onset, etiopathogenesis, clinical course and treatment efficiency. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), especially HPV positive, belongs to highly immunogenic cancers. Its development relates to HPV infection and host immune response, especially with T regulatory lymphocytes response. Programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), which shows immunosuppressive effect on host’s immune system, takes part  in cancerogenesis. That favours carcinogenesis. The development of immuno-oncology and better understanding of HNSCC pathogenesis has contributed to developments in immunotherapy, a method of care which is used preferably in the treatment of advanced, refractory or relapsed cancers that did not respond to standard-of care cancer treatments – in the case of HNSCC it is surgical resection with possible radiochemotherapy or chemotherapy. The idea of immunotherapy is to remove tumor immunosuppressive effect and to boost host immune response to eliminate neoplasm.
This article shows a review of current knowledge and new methods of therapy concerned with HNSCC treatment, especially HPV positive HNSCC.


nowotwory głowy i szyi; ludzki wirus brodawczaka; immunoterapia; limfocyty T; odporność.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21164/pomjlifesci.608

Copyright (c) 2019 Mateusz Sikora, Magda Przesławska, Rafał Becht

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/pl/