MRI for Differentiation between HPV-Positive and HPV-Negative Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Systematic Review

Linda L. Chen*, Iris Lauwers, Gerda Verduijn*, Marielle Philippens, Renske Gahrmann*, Marta E. Capala*, Steven Petit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an important risk factor for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). HPV-positive (HPV+) cases are associated with a different pathophysiology, microstructure, and prognosis compared to HPV-negative (HPV−) cases. This review aimed to investigate the potential of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to discriminate between HPV+ and HPV− tumours and predict HPV status in OPSCC patients. A systematic literature search was performed on 15 December 2022 on EMBASE, MEDLINE ALL, Web of Science, and Cochrane according to PRISMA guidelines. Twenty-eight studies (n = 2634 patients) were included. Five, nineteen, and seven studies investigated structural MRI (e.g., T1, T2-weighted), diffusion-weighted MRI, and other sequences, respectively. Three out of four studies found that HPV+ tumours were significantly smaller in size, and their lymph node metastases were more cystic in structure than HPV− ones. Eleven out of thirteen studies found that the mean apparent diffusion coefficient was significantly higher in HPV− than HPV+ primary tumours. Other sequences need further investigation. Fourteen studies used MRI to predict HPV status using clinical, radiological, and radiomics features. The reported areas under the curve (AUC) values ranged between 0.697 and 0.944. MRI can potentially be used to find differences between HPV+ and HPV− OPSCC patients and predict HPV status with reasonable accuracy. Larger studies with external model validation using independent datasets are needed before clinical implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2105
Number of pages19
Issue number11
Early online date31 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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