Human papillomavirus (HPV) has changed the face of head and neck cancer over the past 2 decades. No longer is this solely a disease of older patients with a history of heavy tobacco and alcohol use. Patients with HPV-related head and neck cancers tend to be younger, healthier, and have an improved prognosis, compared with those with HPV-negative tumors. As more patients are diagnosed with HPV-related head and neck cancer, physicians have important topics to consider. These include prevalence, transmission, and natural history of HPV, the role of screening, vaccines, and HPV testing in head and neck cancer. This article continues a series developed by the American Head and Neck Society's Education Committee entitled “Do you know your guidelines?” and is intended to provide guidance for navigating common questions and concerns patients may have about HPV infection and HPV-related head and neck cancer.
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