There is a possible association between hepatitis C virus (HCV) and head and neck cancers. Publishing their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers in this retrospective, case-controlled study examined records on 34,545 people tested for hep C at a health center in Houston and chose 409 people with head and neck cancers as well as 694 people with other cancers to serve as a control group.

The group with head and neck cancers included 164 people with oropharyngeal (middle throat) and 245 people with nonoropharyngeal (non–middle throat) cancers. The control group included 378 people with lung cancer, 168 people with cancer of the esophagus and 148 people with bladder cancer.

Twenty percent of those with nonoropharyngeal cancer tested positive for hep C, as did 14 percent of those with oropharyngeal cancer, compared with 6.5 percent of those in the control group.

Hep C increased the risk of head and neck cancers by 2.4-fold for oral cavity cancers, 2.04-fold for oropharynx cancers and 4.96-fold for larynx cancers.

Those with hep C and head and neck cancers were more likely to also test positive for human papillomavirus (HPV) than the control group members.

To read a press release about the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.