As human papillomavirus positive (HPV+) oral cavity and pharynx cancer (OCPC) incidence increases significantly, our objective was to determine whether selected sociodemographic and clinical factors were associated with HPV+ OCPCs overall and by oropharyngeal and non-oropharyngeal sites.


Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program data were used in this study. Specifically, univariate and logistic regression models were used to examine the relationships between HPV+ and HPV− OCPC cases and age, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, factors of neighborhood socioeconomic status (i.e., nSES/Yost index) and rurality/urbanity, first malignancy status, histology, reporting source, stage at diagnosis, and OCPC anatomic site. The same approach was used to identify risk factors for HPV positivity for oropharyngeal and non-oropharyngeal OCPCs separately.


In all OCPCs, cases that were male, <80 years old, lived in the four highest nSES categories, diagnosed with a non-“gum and other mouth” OCPC (ref = hypopharynx), not locally staged at diagnosis, and a first malignancy had higher odds of being HPV+. Cases that were American Indian/Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander (ref = White), Spanish-Hispanic-Latino ethnicity, non-married/partnered, and not reported by a hospital/clinic had lower odds of being HPV+. Associations were maintained in oropharyngeal OCPCs and only age and race remained significant for non-oropharyngeal OCPCs.


Sociodemographic and clinical differences in HPV+ and HPV− OCPC, overall and for (non)oropharyngeal, cases exist.


Identification of OCPC and (non)oropharyngeal risk factors for HPV positivity may assist in discovering high-risk groups that should receive enhanced public health efforts to reduce the U.S. OCPC burden.

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