HealthDay News — 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), according to a study in Head & Neck.

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.

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.

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“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.

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Sivars L, Landin D, Haeggblom 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