(HealthDay News) — Patients with human papillomavirus-positive oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC), but not their partners, have a high prevalence of oncogenic oral HPV DNA and oral HPV16 DNA, according to a study published online April 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Gypsyamber D’Souza, PhD, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined oral HPV infection and cancer risk among 93 long-term sexual partners of 164 patients with HPV-OPC. They conducted an oral rinse sample, risk factor survey, cancer history, and oral examination (partners only).

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The patients with HPV-OPC were mainly men (90%), and had performed oral sex (97%); about half were never-smokers (51%). At enrollment, there was a high prevalence of oncogenic oral HPV DNA (61%) and oral HPV16 DNA (54%). 

The prevalence of oncogenic oral HPV was comparable for female partners and members of the general population of the same age (1.2% vs. 1.3%). No oncogenic oral HPV infections were detected in the six male partners. 

During partner oral cancer screening examinations, no precancers or cancers were identified. Nine partners (10.3 percent%) reported having a previous partner who developed invasive cervical cancer.

“Oral HPV16 DNA is commonly detected among patients with HPV-OPC at diagnosis, but not among their partners,” the researchers. “Partners of patients with HPV-OPC do not seem to have elevated oral HPV infection compared with the general population.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.


  1. D’Souza G, Gross ND, Pai SI, et al. Oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection in HPV-Positive Patients With Oropharyngeal Cancer and Their Partners. J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2014.55.1341.