BACKGROUND - Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E6 antibodies are a promising biomarker of oropharyngeal cancer (OPC); however, seropositivity among non-OPC cases is not well characterized.
METHODS - Pre-treatment sera from 260 (38 OPC, 222 non-OPC) incident head and neck cancers diagnosed at the University of Pittsburgh between 2003 and 2006 were tested for HPV16 (L1,E1,E2,E4,E6,E7) and non-HPV16 E6 (HPV6,11,18,33) antibodies. Sensitivity and specificity of HPV16 E6 antibodies for HPV-driven tumors was evaluated among tumors with known HPV status (n=25).
RESULTS - 63.2% of OPC versus 27.5% of non-OPC cases were HPV16 seropositive; HPV16 E6 seroprevalence was 60.5% and 6.3% respectively, odds ratio 22.8 (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.8-53.1). Sensitivity and specificity of HPV16 E6 antibodies for HPV-driven OPC was 100% [95% CI: 50-100%; n=6] and 100% [95% CI: 60-100%, n=4] compared to 0% (n=2) and 0% (n=13) for non-OPC cases.
CONCLUSIONS - HPV16 antibodies were significantly more common in OPC versus non-OPC cases, particularly HPV16 E6 antibodies.
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