Background: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most prevalent malignancy among males inIndia. While tobacco and alcohol are main aetiological factors, human papilloma virus (HPV) presence hassurprisingly increased in head and neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) in the past two decade but itsfrequency in OSCCS is still uncertain. We aim to explore the frequency of HPV and its major genotypes in NorthIndian patients and their association with clinicopathological and histopathological features and p16 expressionpattern. Materials and
Methods: The study group comprised 250 histologically proven cases of OSCC. HPVwas detected by real time PCR in tumor biopsy specimens and confirmed by conventional PCR with PGMY09/PGMY11 primers. Genotyping for high-risk types 16/ 18 was conducted by type specific PCR. p16 expressionwas assessed by immunohistochemsitry.
Results: HPV presence was confirmed in 23/250 (9.2%) OSCC cases, ofwhich 30.4% had HPV 16 infection, 17.4%were positive for HPV 18 and 26.1% had co-infections. HPV presencewas significantly associated with male gender (p=0.02) and habit of pan masala chewing (p=0.01). HPV positivecases also had a history of tobacco consumption in 91.3% cases. p16 over expression was observed in 39.1%of HPV positive cases but this was not significantly different from negative cases (p=0.54).
Conclusions: Thefrequency of HPV in OSCC is low in North-India and majority of cases are associated with a tobacco habit.It appears that tobacco shows a confounding effect in HPV positive cases and use of p16 protein as a reliablemarker to assess the potential etiological role of HPV in OSCC in our population is not suggested.