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Pathology Research International
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 138469, 7 pages
Review Article

Ancillary Studies in Determining Human Papillomavirus Status of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oropharynx: A Review

1Department of Pathology, Rush University Medical Center, 1850 W. Harrison Street, 570 Jelke Building, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
2University of Rome La Sapienza School of Medicine, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy
3Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1653 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60615, USA

Received 16 November 2010; Accepted 9 May 2011

Academic Editor: Stefan Pambuccian

Copyright © 2011 Richard L. Cantley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral cavity and pharynx represents the sixth most common form of malignancy worldwide. A significant proportion of these cases are related to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. In general, HPV-associated SCC is more commonly nonkeratinizing and poorly differentiated, whereas non-HPV-associated SCC is typically keratinizing and moderately differentiated. Nevertheless, significant overlap in morphology is seen between these two forms of SCC. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the utility of ancillary studies in the establishment of HPV status of oropharyngeal SCC, including p16 immunohistochemistry, high-risk HPV in situ hybridization, polymerase chain reaction, and newer HPV detection modalities.