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Virus May Raise Skin Cancer Risk

Human papillomavirus more prevalent in patients with specific malignancy

WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A subtype of the virus best known for its links to cervical cancer may also raise the risk for a form of skin cancer, researchers report.

A human papillomavirus (HPV) subtype called beta HPV may be associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Although sun exposure and sun sensitivity are the major risk factors for (skin) cancers, our data support a role of HPV, particularly beta HPV, in the development of squamous cell carcinoma," write researchers at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H.

Beta HPVs, which include HPV types 5 and 8, have been detected in skin tumors and previous research has suggested they may play a role in skin cancer.

In this study, researchers looked for antibodies to 16 different HPV types in samples collected from 252 people with squamous cell carcinoma, 525 people with basal cell carcinomas, and 461 cancer-free people in a control group.

Beta type HPV antibodies were detected in squamous cell carcinoma patients more often than in people in the control group. Basal cell carcinoma patients and control group volunteers showed no difference in the presence of HPV antibodies.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about squamous cell carcinoma risk factors.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, March 14, 2006
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