HPV Infection May Raise Risk of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Possible association between HPVs in the genus beta, particularly HPV5

WEDNESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Infection with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Margaret R. Karagas, Ph.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted a population-based case-control study of 252 squamous cell carcinoma patients, 525 patients with basal cell carcinomas and 461 controls. The subjects' plasma was tested for antibodies to 16 HPV types. Personal interviews were also conducted to collect data on sun sensitivity, outdoor exposure and other risk factors for skin cancer.

Patients with squamous cell carcinoma were more likely to have HPV antibodies than control subjects (odds ratio 1.5), but basal cell carcinoma patients did not (OR, 0.8). HPVs from the genus beta, particularly HPV5, were associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma and patients with tumors on areas chronically exposed to the sun had the highest incidence of beta HPV seropositivity.

"It is becoming increasingly evident that HPV acts as a carcinogen in malignancies other than cervical cancer," the authors conclude. "Although sun exposure and sun sensitivity are the major risk factors for keratinocyte cancers, our data support a role of HPV, particularly beta HPVs, in the development of squamous cell carcinoma."

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