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The role of human papillomavirus in head and neck cancer in Senegal

Cathy Ndiaye17*, Laia Alemany23, Yankhoba Diop4, Nafissatou Ndiaye5, Marie-Joseph Diémé5, Sara Tous2, Jo Ellen Klaustermeier23, Maria Alejo2, Xavier Castellsagué23, F Xavier Bosch26, Helen Trottier17 and Silvia de Sanjosé23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, 3175 Côte Sainte-Catherine, Room A-830, Montreal, QC H3T 1C5, Canada

2 Unit of Infections and Cancer, Institut Català d'Oncologia, Barcelona, Spain

3 CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública, CIBERESP, Barcelona, Spain

4 Hôpital Principal de Dakar, Dakar, Senegal

5 Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal

6 Red Temàtica de Investigaciòn Cooperativa en Càncer, RTICC, Barcelona, Spain

7 Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, Montreal, Canada

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Infectious Agents and Cancer 2013, 8:14  doi:10.1186/1750-9378-8-14

Published: 17 April 2013



Exploring the presence and role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in head and neck cancer (HNC) is a necessary step to evaluate the potential impact of HPV prophylactic vaccines.


To assess the prevalence and oncogenic role of HPV in HNC in Senegal.


This is a multicenter cross-sectional study. Paraffin-embedded blocks of cases diagnosed with invasive HNC between 2002 and 2010 were collected from 4 pathology laboratories in Senegal. Presence of HPV DNA was determined by PCR and DEIA, and genotyping performed with LiPA25. Tubulin analysis was performed to assess DNA quality. HPV DNA-positive cases were tested for p16INK4a expression.


A total of 117 cases were included in the analysis: 71% were men, mean age was 52 years old (SD ±18.3), and 96% of cases were squamous cell carcinoma. Analysis was performed on 41 oral cavity tumors, 64 laryngeal tumors, 5 oropharyngeal tumors and 7 pharyngeal tumors. Only four cases (3.4%; 95% CI = 0.9%-8.5%) harbored HPV DNA. HPV types detected were HPV16, HPV35 and HPV45. However, among HPV-positive cases, none showed p16INK4a overexpression.


Our findings indicate that HPV DNA prevalence in HNC in Senegal is very low, suggesting that HPV is not a strong risk factor for these cancers. Additional larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and explore other potential risk factors specific to the region.

Head and neck cancer; Human papillomavirus; Senegal; Sub-Saharan Africa