Numerous reports in recent decades have shown that, in addition to smoking and alcohol, human papillomavirus (HPV) is also associated with the development of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), predominantly in the tonsils and base of the tongue. In 2007, the International Agency on Research against Cancer (IARC) therefore declared HPV to be a risk factor for OPSCC and noted that 80% of those affected are men. In addition, patients with HPV-positive OPSCC, in particular never-smokers, have a much better clinical response to therapy than patients with HPV-negative OPSCC and other head and neck cancers. Most patients with HPV-positive OPSCC may thus not need the increasingly intensive chemo-radiotherapy currently administered today to most patients with head neck cancers and associated with many adverse effects. Furthermore, an increase in the incidence of OPSCC has been observed in many western countries, accompanied by a rise in the proportion of HPV-positive tumors. Patients with HPV-positive OPSCC, like those with cervical cancer, more often have an earlier sexual debut and have more sexual partners. It has therefore been proposed that the increased incidence of OPSCC observed might be due to an epidemic of sexually transmitted HPV. The important issues today regarding this growing cohort of patients with HPV-positive OPSCC are therefore individualized treatment and prevention. More specifically, selected HPV-positive OPSCC patients with biomarkers of good prognosis might be included in randomized trials with less intensive treatment. HPV vaccination should also be considered for boys, in addition to the current recommendations for immunization of girls.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.