HealthDay News — According to a study published in Head & Neck, HPV16 DNA detected in fine-needle aspirations from neck masses is a reliable indicator for diagnosis of an HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Lars Sivars, MD, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and colleagues prospectively examined fine-needle aspiration cytologies (FNACs) from 66 patients with neck masses for HPV DNA and HPV16 mRNA using a polymerase chain reaction-based assay. 

The results were correlated to diagnosis and HPV status obtained from histopathological specimens.

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The researchers found that aspirates from 17 of the 66 patients, later diagnosed with HPV-positive oropharyngeal SCC, were HPV16 DNA-positive, while all remaining FNACs, including 18 branchial cleft cysts, were HPV DNA-negative. 

HPV DNA status in the aspirates had perfect concordance with corresponding biopsies. HPV16 mRNA was detected in all cases with extractable RNA.

“HPV16 DNA detection in fine-needle aspirations from neck masses is reliable and HPV16 DNA in a metastasis is a strong indicator of an HPV-positive oropharyngeal SCC,” the authors write.


Sivars L, et al. “Human Papillomavirus DNA Detection In Fine-Needle Aspirates As Indicator Of Human Papillomavirus-Positive Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Prospective Study”. Head & Neck. 2016. doi: 10.1002/hed.24641. [Epub ahead of print]

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