To investigate the presence and persistence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the oral mucosa of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and its correlation with prognosis.HPV infection was characterized in tumors and pre and posttreatment oral scrapings in 51 patients with HNSCC and matched controls using the SPF10 LiPA Extra assay. p16INK4A immunostain and in situ hybridization for high-risk HPV genotypes recognized transcriptionally active infection in tumor samples. The risk of infection was compared in patients and controls. The association of pretreatment HPV status with recurrence and survival and with posttreatment HPV persistence was assessed.Oral HPV infection risk was significantly higher in patients with HNSCC than in controls (P < .001). Oral HPV infection was associated with infection in the first posttreatment scrapings (P = .015), but did not affect recurrence or prognosis.Oral HPV infection is frequent in patients with HNSCC and has no prognostic implications, suggesting that posttreatment polymerase chain reaction monitoring on oral cells is not effective to monitor patient recurrence risk.
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