MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ryan K. Orosco, MD
Division of Head and Neck Surgery
Department of Surgery
University of California, San Diego
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Orosco: Our group at UC San Diego is interested in HPV as it relates to diseases of the head and neck. HPV is a well-publicized cause of cervical cancer, and awareness about its link to throat (oropharynx) cancer is rapidly increasing.
Less well-known, is the relationship between HPV and benign (non-cancerous) diseases such as genital warts and papilloma of the throat. As we strive to understand how to best care for patients with HPV-related disorders, it is important to understand the entire process of disease progression, which begins with HPV infection. Our group wanted to explore the relationship between HPV infection in the two most commonly infected body sites: oral and vaginal.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Orosco: We used the largest data source of HPV infection information currently available to clinicians, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). For the 3,463 female subjects in this study, information about 37 different strains (types) of HPV was available through oral and vaginal swab data.
HPV infection at both oral and vaginal sites (dual infection) occured in 3% of the study population. Only 1.1% of the overall study population had concordant oral/vaginal infection–infection at both sites of the same HPV type.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Orosco: We found that there age, socioeconomic status, and oral sex practices are important factors in the development of oral & vaginal HPV infection in women. We hope that our study increases the awareness that HPV infection has implications for both vaginal and throat health.
A major take-home was that women with oral HPV had a very high prevalence of vaginal HPV infection (76%). In the future, this may mean that vaginal HPV screening may need to be heightened for females with oral HPV infection. I would caution that we cannot make official public health recommendations based on this single study.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Orosco: Expanding from this study, one future area of research would be to explore how HPV infection at various sites (oral and vaginal) affects the HPV-status of sexual partners. Additionally, it would be helpful to be able to follow HPV infection status over time. One of the limitations of our work with NHANES data is that it is a snapshot in time, and we don’t know how many of the women in this study ultimately clear the viral infection (and does it clear at both sites).
Even further beyond would be to determine the factors responsible for the development of HPV-related diseases in the infected individuals. We know that HPV causes papillomas (vaginal and throat), and that it causes cancer (cervical and oropharynx), but we don’t fully understand why these happen in some people and not in others.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Kedarisetty S, Orosco RK, Hecht AS, Chang DC, Weissbrod PA, Coffey CS. Concordant Oral and Vaginal Human Papillomavirus Infection in the United States. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online March 24, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.0064.
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