HCV Linked to Head and Neck Cancer

April 19, 2016
Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

It’s known that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with the development of liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but are there additional cancers that are associated with this virus?

It’s known that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with the development of liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but are there additional cancers that are associated with this virus?

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reviewed data from 2000-2014 on their patients with HCV to determine if HCV may be associated with the development of head and neck cancers (HNCs), since another virus, HPV, has been linked to cancers of the head and neck.

Participants had new-onset primary oropharyngeal or nonoropharyngeal (oral cavity, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx) HNCs, and control subjects had smoking-associated cancers. Biopsy reports of oropharyngeal cancers tested for HPV were reviewed, and patients with lymphoma were excluded. Of 34,545 patients tested for HCV, 409 (164 oropharyngeal and 245 nonoropharyngeal) and 694 controls (378 lung, 168 esophagus, and 148 urinary bladder) were included in the data analysis.

The prevalence of HCV was higher in patients with oropharyngeal cancer (14%) than in the control group, and was 17% among patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer. The researchers concluded that HCV is associated with nonoropharyngeal and HPV-positive oropharyngeal HNCs. Further studies are needed to explore the possible interaction between HCV and HPV, as well as the association between HCV and other HPV-related malignancies.

Reference

Mahale P, Sturgis EM, Tweardy DJ, et al. Association between hepatitis C virus and head and neck cancers [published online before print April 11, 2016]. J Natl Cancer Inst.