Cutaneous HPV linked to squamous cell carcinoma

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Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) was positively associated with antibodies to several types of cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV) in a case control study.

Cutaneous HPV infection, which differs from the mucosal HPV infection associated with cervical cancer, has been suspected of being a risk factor for SCC. Dana E. Rollison, PhD, of the Department of Cancer Epidemiology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues investigated the association by studying 173 SCC cases and 300 controls who screened negative for skin cancer at a university dermatology clinic.

As the team reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, antibodies against cutaneous HPV types in genera alpha, beta, gamma, mu, and nu in participants' blood samples were measured. In addition, tumor tissue from 159 of the SCC cases was tested for the presence of cutaneous HPV infection. The measuring of cutaneous HPV types in five different genera and the investigating of correlations between cutaneous HPV antibodies in the blood and HPV infection in the tumor made this study unique, pointed out Rollison in a statement issued by the Moffitt Cancer Center.

The researchers found that SCC was positively associated with seropositivity to any genus-beta HPV type. Type-specific associations with SCC were observed for HPV type 10 in genus alpha and HPV types 8 and 17 in genus beta. Additional associations were found between antibodies to beta HPV types 5 and 24 when SCC cases with those same HPV types in their tumors were compared with controls.

Identifying the role of cutaneous HPV infection in SCC may lead to improved characterization of high-risk individuals and the development of novel prevention strategies, noted Rollison and associates.

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